Proving Once Again That the Little Touches Count

This Time Tomorrow (Raya Records)

Mother Jane

By Kevin Gibson

Lexington's Mother Jane, the songwriting duo of Beth Burdon and Lisa Raymond, has turned out a smooth, modern folk album that is easy on the ears, charming and adept. Basically, it's a natural for fans of Indigo Girls and Melissa Etheridge.

And that's not to say it necessarily sounds like either artist, which is sort of the point. Burden, who handles most of the lead vocal duties, has a voice quality that can work both as a down-home folk singer and as a smoky Edie Brickell type of songstress. This and some adept backing musicianship (check out Jason Poff's bass chops on "And Counting") give Mother Jane a nice, sensual groove.

One can also point to the laid-back and mostly upbeat lyrics that permeate this recording as a strength. This stuff has depth without being heavy-handed, while still having some air beneath it. "It's a Wonder" is a fairly straight ahead life-is-good tune, but its innocence and descriptiveness - "Looking out at the bird feeder / As the blackbirds steal their lunch / Watching the cardinal flutter around / Almost close enough to touch" - make it work.

There are enough small touches here and there, like mandolin and Hammond B3, that the songs come through as mostly fulfilled. And the little touch of slide guitar in "Look in the Mirror" conjures up a vaguely Dire Straits-like quality. (Nice touch.) All in all, the album is a winner - it's what you get when a group of friends get together and make honest music. That's never a bad thing.

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