Libby Kirkpatrick

Like many bloated genres in these times, the singer-songwriter thing could use a good pruning, if not a merciless cull. After all, how many of these--from John Mayer to Kathleen Edwards to Frat Green--either aren't genuine singers or can't compose anything new or fresh or even maybe just inspired and inventive (please)? After the sweet bloodletting, on the strength of her first CD, Goodnight Venus, Libby Kirkpatrick would still be standing and might actually get the attention such a dynamic debut deserves. Sure, the style ain't nuthin' new--neo-boho, folk-rock chick flick with jazzy and funky leanings--but it's done with such winning confidence, agility, smarts and charm that Libby compares well with Edie or Ani in terms of achievement and appeal. Kirkpatrick utilizes world-class players like the Sara Lee/Jerry Marotta bass-and-drums team and boasts material and an arrangement sense comparable to those who use the same musicians (read: DiFranco, Peter Gabriel, Indigo Girls). Producing herself, she creates modern mood folk as seductive as Nick Drake did in his day and ever after. Maybe it's the way she makes the tale of a heartbroken girl heading home into sweet, assertive flirtation on "Vaulted Heart," or how she casts the innocent pondering of "To a Child" as rightfully Zen, or the beauteous suite she fashions from words and notes with "Garden." But there's something going on here that bears signs of the true fire of notable talent.