Lisa Schneider, Barbara Nesbitt, Beth Ullman, the Beat Divas, Anam Mila, and Anam Milá
Reviewed by Margaret Moser, Fri., Aug. 19, 2011
Sometime KOOP voice Lisa Schneider's Milkwood Thistle Promenade is your bonus for weathering the summer heat, a cool respite of violin strings singing in all their rosined glory. Sequenced like a largely wordless world journey, Milkwood is captivating and ethereal: Celtic here, Swedish there, with a hint of country, the touch of klezmer, and a few choice vocals ("I Can See") in this largely original offering. The whimsically illustrated package only adds to Schneider's delightful achievement. Recent Austin transplant Barbara Nesbitt recorded The Bees in San Diego, and that SoCal sound is as sweet as her plaintive, honeyed vocals. Nesbitt sits squarely on the folk-rock shelf, with "Come To Find Out" and "Like Strangers" bookending the chapters in between, which pour tender words of love and loss, plus ever-hopeful dreams for a better ending. We've Got Tonight is Beth Ullman's latest: nine sleek, lengthy jazz-pop and standards-style originals from Austin's accomplished pianist and vocalist. Savor the pleasure of really concentrating on her beautifully modulated voice and cheeky lyrics that come from a lifetime of local experience ("Baby, Let's Be More Than Friends"). Ullman also sings in the Beat Divas, the trio KUT's John Aielli calls "the Boswell Sisters meet Crosby, Stills & Nash" but neglects to add "in the kitchen." Songs of Food, Love & Mayhem finds Ullman with Mady Kaye and Dianne Donovan over the kitchen range, divinely harmonizing about coffee ("Cuppa Joe"), sugar ("Sweet Treat"), and alligator stew ("Blame It on the Devil") over a little cocktail music. Finally, if the name Anam Milá sounds suspiciously Irish, the six tracks on the Austin threesome's new CD Reset are pure now-music rooted in the broad expanse of contemporary rock. The warmth found on Reset is real, too: the disc was recorded all analog, so that "Home" and "Achilles" float in the ether much as they're as anchored to mother earth.