Seattle's Zoe Muth records classics
New CDs released the week of Tuesday, July 24, include a third album by Seattle's crystal-voiced country singer Zoe Muth, "Old Gold"; The Gaslight Anthem's "Handwritten"; Purity Ring's "Shrines"; and a self-titled effort by Love and Theft.
Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers, 'Old Gold' (Signature Sounds)
Zoe Muth, with her crystal voice and supple, unselfconscious delivery, is the best thing to happen to Seattle country music in a long time. Her first two albums — particularly the honky-tonkish "Starlight Hotel" — are must-haves. As for her new, six-song album, "Old Gold" — not so much. Though it's a sweet concept — five stripped-down classics presented with one of Muth's own excellent tunes, "Walking the Line" ("No more walkin' the line while you walk all over me") — the mood is oddly muted and occasionally over-indebted to Lucinda Williams' novocaine drawl.
Muth gives Charlie Feathers' "I've Been Deceived" a good spin, with lovely mandolin and backup harmonies, and drills down to the poignancy of Dock Boggs' "Country Blues," which Muth says she discovered by way of the inspiring Harry Smith "Anthology of American Folk Music." But powerhouse songs such as "Heart Like A Wheel," the Anna McGarrigle classic made famous by Linda Ronstadt, or "Get It While You Can," which Janis Joplin owned, sound odd done plainly — though you've got to hand it to Muth for fearlessly walking into territory like that.
I look forward eagerly to her next disc.
Paul de Barros, Seattle Times music critic
Other new releases
The Gaslight Anthem, "Handwritten" (Mercury)
Purity Ring, "Shrines" (4ad)
Love and Theft, "Love and Theft" (Sony Nashville/RCA)