Andrea Ball

Yep, it's another piano-playing female singer-songwriter specializing in intimate pop numbers. What are the odds of that? And yet Andrea Ball manages to distinguish herself from the legions of women tilling the same soil owing to some unusual attributes, talent and quality among them.

The instrumentation here is simplicity itself: Ball's keyboards and guitar are supplemented by Carl Sorenson's drums and Ryan Brasher's bass and violin accoutrements. However, the disc as a whole offers plenty of variety thanks to arrangements tailored to fit her many moods. The band sounds strummy and confident on "Fast Forward," sassy and witty on "Machine." Meanwhile, Ball's unfussy crooning proves equally effective on confessional material like "Porch," with its dynamic shifts, and the tender/tough "Funeral."

At first, Beat Beat Pound seems overly familiar. But in the end, it's anything but.

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