Pieta Brown has released a couple of well-received records—2005’s In the Cool and 2007’s Remember the Sun—but Shimmer is her debut album on her father Greg Brown’s label, Red House. Despite the presence of a big-name producer in Don Was, as label debuts go, Shimmer is a fairly modest one: an EP consisting of seven stripped-down demo tracks centered around Brown’s voice and guitar with just electric guitar (Bo Ramsey) and bass (Was) adding texture. However, the press release’s claims for the album are anything but modest: It’s overzealous spiel comparing Brown to a brace of female artists, Loretta Lynn, P.J. Harvey, Chan Marshall, and Feist, and it saddles Shimmer with a weight of expectations that it can’t really hope to meet. With that being said, the seven tracks are solid and well crafted, with the sad, sweet “I Know a Girl”, the twanging “Lovin’ You Still”, the plaintive “Hey Joey”, and the seductive “You’re My Lover Now” particularly appealing. Brown’s image-strewn lyrics sometimes reveal too heavy a debt to Dylan, but her lovely voice, with its sleepy, soulful ache and enticing timbre, always commands attention. There’s certainly enough good stuff here to raise anticipation for the release of Brown’s next full-length record, due in the spring.
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