Album review

Jane Kramer 

Break & Bloom

added: 17 Aug 2014 // release date: 8 Sep 2014 // label: Self-Released
reviewer: David Spencer

Jane Kramer - Break & Bloom - Printable version
This is the first full-length solo album for the former The Barrel House Mamas member, and the Portland based singer announces herself with a plaintive collection of heartfelt songs. She has a vocal style that only American female singers do well, with a twang that adds depth and emotion - such as on the piano ballad The Devil Don't Want, which is Ben Folds meets Americana territory.

More typical of the genre, in both music and lyrics, is the violin doused Nobody's Woman Tonight. The post-break up reflections of crying in bars is classic old country, while the obligatory mention of alcohol comes with Hold My Whiskey's gentle banjo acoustics. The emotional Mourning Dove is about a close friend's suicide, which combines a sense of anger with lines like "you had an iron woman....she shared your heart and you she wakes up alone" alongside empathy; "I understand you had to go".

Just as any Americana / Country album has to mention alcohol, just as familiar are references to nature - and here the lovely Plant Me A Willow Tree and That Muddy Water tick that box. Kramer says her songs are about love and living in a complicated world and she captures that mood perfectly, across an album that changes gear in places, but perhaps not quite enough.

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3 stars

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