It's been a good year for gently genre-jamming albums by rangy roots-music ladies--recent discs from Allison Moorer, Patty Griffin, Norah Jones and Caitlin Cary have shown how possible it is to dress up country intimacy in pop pleasure without sounding like Shania or Faith or LeAnn. Even Sheryl Crow's C'mon, C'mon boasted "Soak Up the Sun," an irresistibly gooey lead single and a good excuse to rethink the evil of slick L.A. studio pros. The latest of these cozily modernist efforts comes from low-profile Nashvillian Kim Richey; her fourth album, Rise, is a slow, subdued affair, a canny synthesis of Crow's swaggering California rock and Aimee Mann's studied folk-pop. Richey's got some of Mann's way with words, avoiding the hoariest possibilities in "Hard to Say Goodbye" and turning a couple of elegant phrases in "Electric Green," but producer Bill Bottrell (the slick studio pro responsible for Crow's Tuesday Night Music Club and I Am Shelby Lynne) really gives her songs dimension: Opener "Girl in a Car" evokes its title's abandon with pools of smeared reverb, and "Reel Me In" is an evanescent torch song in search of a Greta Garbo movie. A little anonymous, perhaps, but Rise keeps lifting.
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