Erin McKeown

We Will Become Like Birds (Nettwerk)

Soaring on the strength of wistful sentiments and cool confidence, this fourth album from singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Erin McKeown exudes a rare quality in these troubled times -- a sense of unbridled optimism. Buoyed by shifting rhythms, from the persistent shuffle of "Air" to the clattering, kinetic undertow of "To the Stars," the melodies are assertive, engaging, and richly textured. McKeown is quirky. Spouting euphemisms such as "What I lack in guts and blood/I make up for in dreams" on "Air," the songs sometimes elude a direct connect. But there's no denying her intriguing, distinctive performance.

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