Break & Bloom is the debut solo album from Jane Kramer, the former member of Portland outfit The Barrel House Mamas. The album is rooted firmly in familiar folk-Americana, the twang in the voice, the songs of drink and break-ups, the nods to Appalachia, waltzing melodies, fiddle and gospel infusions.
All bar one of the 11 numbers are self-penned, opening with Georgia which, after a breathily delivered intro, breaks into a rolling rhythm road love song about the state and the South in general. The tempo then shifts dramatically for piano ballad The Devil Don’t Want, a world-wearied number that shows off her controlled vocal to good effect before the style changes again on the old-school barroom fiddle waltzer Nobody’s Woman Tonight and the banjo-accompanied country-roots of Hold My Whiskey.
Chiming reverb guitar and a bluesy delivery characterize That muddy Water, suggesting that Janis Joplin may well be in her list of influences while, a song about a friend’s suicide, Mourning Dove marks one of the album’s highlights, despite a somewhat awkward banjo time signature that seems a little at odds with the melody line.
It’s very much an album about finding her feet and not all of it works, most notably the horn-embellished Red Balloon with what sounds like Band influences and the gypsy jazz of Any Way You Like Child, but, especially with the two closing numbers, the piano led Plant Me a Willow Tree and a New Orleans infused cover of the traditional gospel tune How Far Am I From Canaan there’s plenty of fertile ground. It won’t be her big break, but hopefully time will indeed see her bloom.
Review by: Mike Davies
Out Now – Self Released