Alaskan singer scores with a set of low-key but effective songs.
Alaska-born Emma Hill plies a variety of alt-country, or country-folk, that utilizes a mostly-acoustic palette of sounds to create striking, powerful songs. Hill's voice is smooth and strong, by turns wistful and defiant, and if she never lets loose, well, she never just phones it in either. Songs are consistently engaging, with an emphasis on melody, and Hill is capably backed by her band, the Gentlemen Callers, who provide the right amount of support without being intrusive. Standout cuts include "I'll Never Be Her", a song that builds from a slow opening to a layered confection of guitars, piano and angst, and "The Keeper", with its infectious chorus and Norah Jones vibe. Not all the songs are equally memorable, but there is much warmth and sincerity to appreciate in this melodic, heartfelt, low-key record.