There's a reassuring familiarity about the way Leona Naess sings lyrics like "Roll up the carpet and pour out the wine/Treat me like I'm your valentine" on "Calling," the opening track from her self-titled album. Who hasn't gone through a spell of embracing melancholy, lovestruck folk-pop singers like Joni Mitchell or Lucinda Williams, whether because of a broken heart or a wayward spirit? (Incidentally, Naess has a song called "Don't Use My Broken Heart to Pick Up Other Girls.")
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The English-born singer/songwriter falls solidly into this tradition: She mines a style honed in lower Manhattan workshops like the Bitter End and perfected over two albums that flit between bracingly honest confessionals and whimsical wordplay, as evinced by their titles, 2000's Comatised and 2001's I Tried to Rock You but You Only Roll. It's not revolutionary stuff and it's not meant to be; the simple, melodic arrangements strike emotions in a way that overtly intellectual music never could.