Accord Music Group; 76 Main St., Waterville, ME 04901; (207) 873-2663; www.accordmusicgroup.com.
Blessed with a pure, clear soprano voice that she tinges with sweetness or tartness or roughs up with bluesy grit as the song demands, Colleen Sexton demonstrates complete command of various folk-pop styles on this, her third album. And her stylistic diversity perfectly suits the shifting emotional and philosophical sands of her songwriting, which probes the way the mind pivots and ricochets off love, resentment, generosity, pain, desire, greed, and change. Lines like “Have you made yourself a martyr with intention / All the while with your demons satisfied” and “There’s plenty to share, and plenty more to give / Unless we travel restless eternally” only hint at Sexton’s nimble depictions of thorny ideas.
A fine acoustic-guitar picker (like her better-known brother Martin Sexton, who makes a guest appearance on one song), she is joined by the Canadian duo (Jesse) Zubot and (Steve) Dawson on violin, mandolin, and guitars, plus a fine rhythm section for a sparkling, flexible sound that’s not quite country, bluegrass, or rock but a little bit of all three. (Singer Janis Ian and guitarist Cliff Eberhardt make cameos as well.) Sexton’s thoughtful explorations of interior landscapes might make some think of Dar Williams, but her memorable original melodies and lyrical twists establish her in a league of her own.
Contributing Editor Derk Richardson writes about popular culture for Yoga Journal, Acoustic Guitar magazine, and SFGate (www.sfgate.com). He lives in Oakland, California.