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Gretchen Lieberum: Brand New Morning

Californian Gretchen Lieberum combines the earthy integrity of the Bay Area (she was born and raised in Berkeley) and the hipper sophistication of L.A. (where she now lives). As both singer and songwriter, she echoes the otherworldly appeal and gentle strength of Everything But the Girl’s Tracey Thorn. For Brand New Morning (Lakeshore), her first release since the Internet success of her Three A.M., Lieberum penned the words for 13 of the 15 tracks. Not yet as thoroughly polished a lyricist as Naylor, her results vary from so-so to sensational. “Home” is a pale imitation of Joni Mitchell’s “Car on a Hill,” while “Blue September” seems a rather pedestrian examination of romantic loss. Far better are “Brazen Girl,” a mellow salute to bold choices and independent spirit, the disconcertingly naked “Ruby Eyed,” which recalls Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” and her sassy dissection of L.A.’s relentless phoniness, “Heart on Your Sleeve.” Morning’s two covers prove as disparate in quality as the originals. Lieberum injects “The Bed’s Too Big Without You” with as much bruised reflection as Sting’s original yet completely misses the soul-deep longing of “For All We Know.”

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