September 22, 2005
Fed up with little girl voices and whispers masquerading as vocals? Check out Beth Amsel and you'll know immediately why she turned heads on the "Voices on the Verge" tour. She opens her new album with the full-throated folk-rock "Michigan," then segues to "End of July," an expressive duet with Katryna Nields; slides into the bluesy "Come Up"; sings some country folk with Stephen Kellogg on "Hello Baby"; and then turns smoky and sassy for the jazzy "Swing." Before she's done, she also does a bit of down-home country, a waltz and a Duran Duran cover. It's one thing to be eclectic, but to do it as well as Amsel is extraordinary. Amsel's still not well enough known for this album to make a lot of "Best of 2005" lists, but I'll be damned if I've heard a better singer-songwriter project this year.