Katey Laurel

Katey Laurel has arrived. While she's always shown potential, on Periscope, she really lives up to that promise. Her voice was amiable enough before, but her material just wasn't that memorable. Here, though, she shows tremendous growth, singing with greater confidence, which adds heft to the overall affectiveness of her songs. Although there are some trite — albeit convincingly earnest — sentiments in her lyrics, Laurel is clearly homing in on the ability to be succinct, particularly on songs like "The Optimist," which profits from an economy of words: "Absolutes are nothing more than weary truths/That try to tell us what to do/And when to change our minds." As a songwriter, she's crafted sharper melodies within much sturdier arrangements than on previous efforts, resulting in a solid batch of tunes that recall the work of Shawn Colvin or Natalie Merchant on the softer side and Katie Herzig on the more upbeat side. "Hurricane," whose intro is a fleeting reflection of the Ronettes' "Be My Baby," is the album's standout.

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