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Caitlin Cary, Waltzie, Yep Roc Records 

Fiddler Caitlin Cary's solo EP is a stunner: Cary's gorgeous, unaffected alto weaves through the traditional, countrified arrangements with simplicity and power. Cary gets a helping hand from Whiskeytown cohorts Mike Daly and Ryan Adams, producer Chris Stamey, Tres Chicas' pals Tonya Lamm and Lynn Blakey and her partner and soon-to-be husband, Skillet Gilmore.

From the "nurturing gone awry" fable of "Sorry," with its achingly beautiful vocal and string arrangement, this record rings out pure and true: the kind of album to reminisce along to, the kind of melodies that play through your mind as you drift off to sleep. Cary--a short-story writer who relocated to Raleigh to pursue a graduate degree at N.C. State--peoples her songs with the kind of characters you find in Clyde Edgerton's novels: a town drunk who lets his beloved dog die, a widow (Cary's real-life Aunt Rosie) suddenly free after her much older husband dies.

Cary closes the album with the Richard and Linda Thompson tear-jerker, "Withered and Died," a "living-room" recording that captures Cary's skill as a performer. For my money, Waltzie is as good as anything out there.

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