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Kate McGarry: Mercy Streets

A mere three years have passed since Kate McGarry put so impressive a spin on the varied standards that filled Show Me, yet the plucky New Yorker, has, as demonstrated throughout the significantly more imaginative Mercy Streets (Palmetto), seemingly added decades of maturity to her assured style. With no less a genius than pianist Fred Hersch as her biggest booster (and on two Mercy Street tracks, her accompanist), McGarry takes us on a fascinatingly diverse, mazelike journey that begins with a breezy reading of Joni Mitchell’s “Chelsea Morning,” makes a sharp right into the throwback seductiveness of “Whatever Lola Wants,” detours through smoky renditions of “How Deep Is the Ocean?” and “But Not for Me,” does a hairpin turn into the outre urgency of Bjork’s “Joga,” slows for Hersch and Norma Winstone’s velvety “Stars” and winds up in the Deep South for a cheerily lackadaisical “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?”

A bold, brave adventurer who’s at once wide-eyed and world-weary, McGarry has, by opting for the musical road less traveled, placed herself firmly on the path to ever-widening critical and popular success.

Originally Published