HEARTFELT WORRY: Carolyn Currie.
Written here in Maine (her fist album written here, actually), but recorded back in her old stomping grounds in the Northwest, Carolyn Currie's fourth full-length is a warm and smart disc, with fine arrangements of tunes that manage to explore a wide range of folk. Though it's titled Waves of Silence, Currie manages to speak with a loud voice, launching the album with an anti-war piece and returning later to extol the virtues of Rolling Thunder, an organization focused on bringing home POWs and soldiers missing in action. In between, there's a fair amount of material that threatens to get new-agey, but Currie generally delivers at least one line or couplet that should keep you engaged.
In "Kaleidoscope," which opens with Nick Drake-y guitar work and a dreamy cello backing from Roberta Downey, it's this: "When you look in the mirror, are you frightened by the blurring?" In "After," a pretty number that veers toward pop-rock, with electric guitar from John Morton picking out some sharp phrases, it's: "And the words bled out around me as surely did your life/And I can't describe the horror now of living as your wife."
It's Currie's vocals, actually, that are the most surprising, unless you're familiar with her back catalog. They can be as crisp and sparkly as a teenager's, and might remind you of belles like Marie Moreshead and Jenny Jumpstart, locally. Especially in the opener, it makes for both an interesting contrast and a perfect fit. When she sings, "Yes, I know that I'm the grown-up," you might wonder just how old her kids could be, but her delivery is simply spot-on for the nursery-rhyme finish: "It's raining, it's pouring, the old man is dropping bombs." If you don't feel that last bit in the gut, you're especially jaded.
Sure, there are pictures of seashells and waves and the beach all over this album, and most of the songs are finely polished and soft like a pillow, but there's enough grit here to keep things interesting, and all of that polish and comfort has its place.
Sam Pfeifle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WAVES OF SILENCE | Released by Carolyn Currie on High Horse Records | at Southworth Planetarium, in Portland | December 6 at 8:30 pm | www.carolyncurrie.com