C.D. Di Guardia
In the liner notes, Beth Amsel credits what seems to be a small town's worth of people and the winter of 2004. She describes it as "one of the coldest winters in New England's long and storied chilly history."
The songs on The Reverie are like a nice pair of slippers and hot cup of black tea with milk and sugar after a long walk in the frigid great outdoors.
Although Amsel's first song is titled "Michigan," her heart and her sound clearly belong in New England. Local artists are carving a different type of folk-country song with a particularly regional feel. It's an Olde New England devoid of any mentions of the Red Line, Craigslist, or the Big Dig.
Amsel captures the whole small-town feel with a warm and close performance on each of the songs here. The closeness comes first and foremost from Amsel's earnest vocal delivery. She sounds like the kind of person who will plant both hands on your shoulders and look you straight in the eye, but she also seems liable to bounce off into a soft-shoe routine as she does on tracks such as "Come Up."
The pictures Amsel paints in The Reverie are worthy of hanging up in any drafty oaken hallway in Massachusetts. Beth Amsel's combination of performance, songwriting, and unknown essence radiate a strong and steady light that never blinds - it just warms, even if it was borne of the "coldest winter." (Self-released)