Dallas is a rock town. No place for a girl and her piano, really; I don't care how many Norah Joneses grew up here. Fortunately, Lauren Fine hasn't heard, or doesn't care, and she makes the kind of modest, lovely singer-songwriter music that the city sorely lacks. The 11 songs here are a little generic, but bolstered by the deft production of Todd and Toby Pipes (Deep Blue Something, Flickerstick), they achieve a sultriness and resonance her previous EP For the Breaking lacked. Opener "Conoco" is a fun girl-and-the-open-road ditty that lodged itself in my head all weekend. But "4702 Pinehurst Drive" is too earnest, a college girl's lament. "Good and evil, what's it for?/I couldn't tell you anymore." To her credit, Fine manages to pull off pop, soul and country throughout the album, and yet it leaves her without a distinctive sound, problematic for a genre in which every pretty girl with a sensitive streak starts to sound the same. But if nothing else, Paper Airports shows the beautiful flickers of a maturity and richness still to come.
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