Waiting for Tomorrow, Rebecca Cole, Sparkler, Electric Blue, Shout, Sister, Shout

Texas Platter

Phases and Stages

Girlie Action

The Austin-based trio Same Day Service released their third album, Waiting for Tomorrow, last month, celebrating love, growing up, and dreams of the future ("Life," "Try," "Take It") in 11 punky pop songs of endearing sibling harmony that are charming but lightweight. Rebecca Cole's eponymous three-song EP (Mix-O-Rama) breaks nearly every rule: Opener "Tidal Wave" is a slow, soulful ballad, "Gates of Heaven" is contemporary Christian blues, and "Flavia Cates" is sweetly country. Cole's self-assured vocals and excellent accompaniment land her short disc into the Watch This Artist file. Sparkler, the first full-length CD from Vanessa Peters, is another notable. Her gentle vocals don't quite do justice to the dozen cuts that settle her into the alt-folk genre, but her lyrical strength ("Hooked," "July," "Nothing I Should Cry About") is likely to improve with every recording. Donna Lynn Kay's Electric Blue (Loose Moose) came out last year, but "Girlie Action" can't ignore her potential. Kay's serviceable vocals need to pick up a little grit to keep up with her fine slide guitar, National steel playing, and covers ("Catfish Blues," "Sundown") that outshine her originals ("Take Me Dancing"), but she's yet another to keep an eye on. Shout, Sister, Shout! (M.C. Records) is a long overdue acknowledgment of the great Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and is as solid as a church organ. The guitar-playing gospel singer influenced female acts from Odetta and Sweet Honey in the Rock, to Phoebe Snow and Michelle Shocked, all of whom pay musical tribute here. So do Angela Strehli and Marcia Ball, who join Maria Muldaur and Tracy Nelson on the uplifting title track. Strehli takes on "That's All" with her seasoned aplomb, then joins Muldaur and Nelson to back Ball on "I Want a Tall Skinny Papa." Now that's something to shout about.
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