Nineteen year-old Californian Angelica Grim’s 12-track debut album proves that she is nothing if not a versatile singer with a strong yet tender voice. She writes but one song on the project—the bouncy title track that leaves you wanting more from her pen—but, the focus here is on Grim’s vocals and what she can do with a wide range of material.
From an uptempo nonsense song like “Rubber Dolly” to a slightly-updated version of the Stanleys’ “She’s More To Be Pitied” to Johnny Cash’s downbeat “I Still Miss Someone,” this young singer captures the mood and meaning of a song while flashing just the right amount of technique. She also manages to do credit to two Hazel Dickens songs, “Old Calloused Hands” and the gorgeous “West Virginia My Home,” and turns in one of this reviewer’s favorite covers of Townes Van Zandt’s “If I Needed You” that features nice fingerstyle guitar work from Keith Arneson. She closes the album with an invigorating take on the Box Tops’ 1967 pop hit “The Letter,” which suggests Grim will be willing to take more vocal and musical risks in the future.
The more-than-capable studio band here includes John Miller (guitar), Frank Solivan (mandolin and harmony vocals), Chris Walls (bass), Mike Munford (banjo), and Michael Cleveland (fiddle), whose inimitable apearance alone is worth the price of admission. Bill Emerson (banjo) and Mike Auldridge (resonator guitar) each guest on two tracks. (Patuxent Music, P.O. Box 572, Rockville, MD 20848, www.angelicagrim.com.) AKH