Ellen Cherry
"Years"

(Wrong Size Shoes 2005)Ellen Cherry - Years

Ellen Cherry is actually the pseudonym for the much less succinct sounding Kristin Putchinski. She grew up with some training on the piano, the cello, and eventually picked up the guitar while in college. She's been recording albums since 1997 either completely by herself or with different backing bands. This latest album is her attempt to describe a woman's experiences throughout the years from 1864, all the way to 1976.

Each song is titled by the particular year, along with an additional description of the situation. Thus, we have "1864: A Civil Bride" to begin the album conceptually. It sounds like a Joni Mitchell track, with the crystal clear vocals and the effortless sounding acoustic folk guitar chord changes. The songs seem to represent musical expressions that have been well developed and explored before by perhaps much better and much more original artists. Nevertheless, the songs are still tuneful and sincere sounding, and there isn't really a dull track on the entire album. However, there are only six songs, which I'm sure made it easier for her to represent her strongest musical offerings up to this point, with no attempt to surround the key songs with fluff to hold a usual twelve to thirteen tracks together.

"1893: A Girl at the World's Fair," sounds like an Indigo Sisters song, with its highflying chorus. Again, I detect that she is borrowing, which is either a criticism or simply an observation of her musical sources. She stretches her vocals a bit on this one, which reveals her range to not be as technically exquisite as is often required for this kind of material, but her voice works nonetheless. The rest of the songs flow by swimmingly enough, ending with "1976: Buffalo Gals Don't Worry About Fashion," which may just be the strongest song on the album. It has straight up electric country guitar carrying the tune, which may just be played by Cherry, which is quite impressive.

This album isn't for everyone. I'm thinking that anyone who is interested in low fi folk music will be pleasantly entertained by this latest from Ellen Cherry. Anyone else might do better to stay away.

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