As one half of 1990s Tex-Mex favorites Sisters Morales, Lisa Morales trekked from her native Tucson, Ariz., to Texas, shunning Nashville, Tenn., for an indie path. Beautiful Mistake reveals her unerring ear and compelling voice amid patchwork originals of wistful country ("Looking for Something Beautiful"), tender balladry ("I Can't Stop Thinking"), and all-out rock ("Drivin and Cryin"). Yet it's the dirty backseat allure of "I Wanna Be in Love" that makes Morales memorable: "I wanna hold your hand/I wanna wear your shirt/I wanna smell your smell/Baby take off my skirt."
"Through the Veil" and "Men in White Hats" aptly demonstrate Vanessa Lively's polished songwriting across the eclectic musical pantheon, but her calling lies in her puro Americano confluence of American roots and border music ("Estoy Volando," "Baile Conmigo"), such songs dominating her previous Canto y Cantera. That's not to suggest that her country ("Honeybee") and folk ("Follow Your Heart") aren't as weighty, only that the road between San Antonio and Austin is paved with guitars, and she strikes a chord in Spanish.
Philadelphia native Libby Kirkpatrick relocated to Austin 10 years ago with a trunkful of songwriting honors, but it took the pitter-patter of tiny cowboy boots to cross-stitch this colorful sampler of emotions. These aren't cute, mumsy songs about wondrous infants, though. They're reflective, dreamy songs of transition ("Alice," "Beautiful Illusion"), free of bitterness, with jaunty jazz touches ("In This Life"), an occasional cautionary tale ("Devil Inside"), and a true gem in "Trying."
The stream of consciousness running throughout Wound & Will is colored deep red. New Braunfels' Little Brave (aka Stephanie Briggs, aka Stephanie Macías) might be suffering from identity issues, but her time-honored use of music as catharsis yields bittersweet sentiments ("Monster," "Time To Forget"), drops a couple of radio-style tracks ("Mercy," "Blame") in the mix, and weaves unexpectedly lush musical textures ("Fool," "The Invitation," "Cut & Paste") throughout. Heavy on regret but confident with hope.
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