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A 'Blue Morning' That's Welcoming and Warm

Ontario-based singer-songwriter Kate Maki's new album, On High, is a collection of pastoral country-folk songs that soar with gentle beauty. Throughout the album, producer Howe Gelb and an assortment of likeminded collaborators add graceful flourishes, but On High easily stands alone as a superb solo album.

Maki's effortless singing functions as the disc's centerpiece, while musically, her supporting cast plays it fairly straight-ahead and honest, neither over- nor underplaying. "Blue Morning," in particular, functions as a recipe for lazy perfection. Country harmonies tumble along, a pedal steel evokes big-sky country, and a gentle piano keeps the song moving in a poised shuffle.

Maki possesses a conversational singing style — much like that of Kathleen Edwards or Lucinda Williams — that feels plaintive, welcome, and warm. It's possible to soak in the space between notes and the sighs between chord changes, and she touches emotions with honest sentiments that recall the likes of Iris DeMent and even Neil Young.

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Copyright 2008 XPN

Bruce Warren is assistant general manager for programming of WXPN in Philadelphia. Besides serving as executive producer of World Café, Warren also contributes to Paste magazine and writes for two blogs: Some Velvet Blog and WXPN's All About The Music Blog.