Catie Curtis- Dreaming In Romance Languages (Vanguard)
review by Joe del Tufo

Track Listing

1. Saint Lucy
2. Deliver Me
3. Hold On
4. The Night
5. It's The Way You Are
6. The Trouble You Bring
7. Cross Over To Me
8. Life Goes On
9. Red Light
10. Doctor
11. Dark Weather



Over the course of six albums Catie Curtis has managed a pleasant, upbeat brand of folk pop that has created a dedicated following, while never quite breaking through to the mainstream. It has been the combination of her lyrical honesty and her elementally clear voice that has been the key to her success, and on Curtis' latest (and debut on Vanguard Records) Dreaming In Romance Languages, she sticks to her strengths.

Romance Languages opens with the jangly, country-tinged Saint Lucy, a slickly produced track with excellent mandolin care of Jimmy Ryan. It is a busier, more layered song than Curtis fans are accustomed to, but kicks off the disc with a nice, positive punch.

As always, her lyrics are smart and to the point- see "You give confusion a human face" from The Trouble You Bring and "The sweetest flower waits all winter long" from Life Goes On, for examples. The guitar work on Romance Languages is the best we've heard from Curtis thus far. She uses the acoustic guitar to convey tempo and emotion as well as any in her genre. On tracks like Saint Lucy and Hold On, her guitar almost becomes a second voice, conveying subtext that the lyrics only allude to.

One interesting note is Curtis' cover of Morphine's The Night. An interesting choice both because of the artist, but also her approach to the track. It is both faithful to the brooding and eerie sense conveyed by the track, but also becomes Curtis' own in the spoken chorus. Harmony vocals are supplied by ex-Story vocalist Jennifer Kimball.

On first listen, Dreaming In Romance Languages is not Curtis' most memorable album. It reminds me of John Gorka's recent albums- pleasant, but slow to reveal their true nature. Romance Languages has something of a beach town movie soundtrack feel to it, as if she is taking us on a ocean tour across 11 tracks. It is a CD that shares itself over time, with layers and inflections that become more apparent and interesting with each listen.


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