Hit or miss

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"It's going slow, but I want it to go like that," she says. "It's nice and slow, and that's natural. Some things will be a phenomenon, and some things will not be right away. I think my thing is pretty organic, and it's gotta jell a little with people. And that's exactly how I want it to be."

And getting as far as she has in such little time in Austin keeps Crowley encouraged. Singing and playing music since she was a kid in Trumbull, Connecticut--her mother teaches piano and guitar--Kacy began writing songs after she became an avid rock fan in her teens. She dropped out of college to follow the Grateful Dead, and then headed to Los Angeles to become a star, all of which she recounts in her song "Rebellious." ("Then the Grateful Dead came to me like a wave on the air/I didn't shave my legs for at least two years.")

For a brief while, it seemed as though she might make a go of the music business while in L.A.; but the connections she made didn't mean much when she wouldn't show up for meetings with music-business folks.

"I was basically just doing drugs and drinking constantly," she says of her days in L.A. "But I lived through it, and eventually moved back to Connecticut and got my shit together, got clean and sober."

She began playing around Connecticut, cut some tracks with former Asbury Jukes guitarist Billy Rush, and eventually moved to New York City to play the circuit and work the industry there. "I'd been in New York for like three years and was basically really miserable," Crowley recalls. "It was fun for a while. I'd been waitressing, and I was seeing how all the people I knew were kind of stuck. It was like there's so much stimulation in New York that you don't have to make any change to yourself. It was like, I need to get out of here and make something happen for myself. My husband is a writer and an actor, and we'd both been equally trying to do it. And we just decided that we had to really work collectively to get one of us ahead, and it seems like my window of opportunity is right now."

So they loaded up their stuff in a truck and headed to Austin. They briefly considered returning to L.A., but Crowley was burned out by the music business. She chose Austin because her brother lives there and because, as she says now, she wanted an "earth-crunchy" kind of place, a town with a music scene that felt more like a community. And perhaps she felt like after New York and Los Angeles, she might well become a big fish in Town Lake; in Austin, it seems, everyone is famous for at least one record. (Just ask Sincola.)

But even though Crowley is one of those rare artists among countless local wannabes who actually came to Austin and found a little gold in the water, it's as much a result of her own growth and attitude as the place where she did it. In Los Angeles and New York, she was unfocused and unsure of her music; she was lost in the big city, drowned out by all the noise. Her move to Austin coincided with her decision to focus on writing and recording--the idea of waiting tables for the rest of her life scared her straight.

"I lived a lot of life, and I really had to live it all," she offers, finding the good in her wasted years in L.A. and New York. "It's like, I wouldn't take back any of those times. But I wouldn't wish them on anyone else, and if it was my kid going through it, I'd be having a heart attack. I still think about things I did and get a little nervous, like, Oh, my God, I can't believe I didn't get killed."

Those times of struggle inform such songs on Anchorless as "Hand To Mouthville," "Scars," and "Rebellious," the last of which sounds like a potential youth radio anthem. With an alt-pop vocal insouciance a la Alanis Morissette or Meredith Brooks--yet, at the same time, with a Rickie Lee Jones-like sophistication in her approach--Crowley's debut disc could win over listeners to both modern-rock radio and the more mature adult album-alternative format, much like her fellow Austinite Abra Moore managed to do over the last year with the single "Four Leaf Clover."

Crowley likes to say that she's "the rawest form" of singer-songwriter--someone not schooled as a musician, who plays by intuition instead of training. Indeed, Anchorless' great charm lies in the fact that it's a beautiful rock and roll record, somewhere between silk and steel.

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Rob Patterson