On her fourth album, Sudbury singer/songwriter Kate Maki proves that leaving behind the comforts of home can lead to excellent results. In spring 2008, she headed down to Tucson, armed with 10 folk tunes she'd never played for anyone, tucked herself into a blazing-hot desert studio with members of Giant Sand, Jonathan Richman, Calexico and Arcade Fire (some of whom she'd just met), and re-emerged after two days with an album.
It's an austere affair that grows darker as each tune slips by. Rip Out The Moon has creaky guitar solos à la Crazy Horse, reedy singing and messy, trash-can drums that sometimes fall off the beat. Upon A Time's stark lyrics will make you catch your breath, while Carved In Sand's raw vocals prove that Maki really did lose her pipes partway through the sessions.
This is the sometimes-schoolteacher at her gutsy, despondent best and a great winter companion.
Top track: Upon A Time
Kate Maki plays the Dakota January 28.