Self-proclaimed country/gypsy/jazz artist Amy LaVereâ€™s latest effort, Stranger Me, has lush instrumentation and bold, often brash, lyrics. Sung in LaVereâ€™s famed saccharine style, the disc appears to have the makings of a solid success. Individually, its elements shine; collectively, however, they sometimes fail to firmly unite. Â
Fuzzy, buzzing opener â€œDamn Love Songâ€ gives a lengthy dose of defiance. Â LaVere laments, â€œOh please, Iâ€™ll never get down on my knees/ You know Iâ€™m too proud.â€ Sheâ€™s clear, resounding even â€“ but her syrupy, sticky vocals inevitably falter under the weight of charging guitars and pounding drums. The equally fiery â€œYou Canâ€™t Keep Meâ€ and noisy â€œCandle Mamboâ€ suffer a similar fate.
Yet, LaVere soon learns her way. The broken down, if somewhat expected, â€œRed Banksâ€ provides a safe, fitting showcase for LaVereâ€™s soft, feathery voice. Indeed, the track has its mismatched moments â€“ gritty guitars and outlaw lyrics â€“ but provides LaVere with fairly firm footing. The grooving, jazzy folk of â€œGreat Divide,â€ golden vocals and gentle instrumentation of â€œLucky Boy,â€ and striking bass line of the title track move the disc forward. Mellow closers â€œCry My Eyes Outâ€ and â€œCome Onâ€ cement LaVereâ€™s promise â€“ as a vocalist, a musician, an artist.
Stranger Me is out now on Archer Records.