Jean Synodinos, Michelle Anthony, Autumn, Ali, and Karrie Hopper
Reviewed by Margaret Moser, Fri., Feb. 9, 2007
Lucky was Jean Synodinos' aptly named local debut in 2003, and its successor Breathe (Fortunate Records) is an equal sigh of relief. Synodinos hails from the Austin singer-songwriter school of music, her sophomore disc shouldering a flirty sense of humor with substantial songwriting chops. And if Lucky marked her elation as a breast cancer survivor, this release is for the dog lovers, with a portion of proceeds going to the Austin Humane Society. Michelle Anthony's *Frozenstarpalace (Merctwyn Records) grounds up its many recording sites (Chicago, Milwaukee, L.A., Austin) like the opening cut into this seven-song EP, "Lead Glass Tiffany Shades." That gives FSP a kind of untethered sound, even under the tutelage of producer Barry Goldberg, but Anthony's pro enough to let her music stand on its own. She loves her rock & roll ("Ugly Side"), yet doesn't hesitate to wax sentimental with "White Lies." The mono-monikered Autumn cut her Sugarcane (Highway 29 Records) with a wide swath of confident blues-rock and balladry. It's one of the better local debuts of last year, ably pitting her compositions against Patty Griffin's and Bruce Robison's, which comes as no surprise since the CD boasts Lloyd Maines, Dick Gimble, and Walt Wilkins. Ali, another first-name-only singer-songwriter, lets fly Grace of Doves (Blue Eclipse Records), eight often lengthy gems that swing between lush pop and atmospherics airs. Ever so vaguely New Age-y in its Enya-like vocals and ambient arrangements, Doves is as lovely as its moniker. Karrie Hopper made An Unusual Move (Nobody's Favorite Records) for herself. At least that's how her introspective songwriting appears, somewhat hampered by her tentative vocals. That's not to dismiss Hopper, just to suggest that talking the talk is as important as walking the walk when striding into the crowded field of Girls With Guitars.