Alana Amram & the Rough Gems Spring River

Alana Amram & the Rough Gems Spring River
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If Alana Amram happened to be on stage the night you stopped into the bar for a quick drink, you'd almost certainly end up closing the place. For her third full-length record, the L.A.-based (by way of Upstate New York) troubadour teams up again with the Rough Gems for a gritty but evocative collection of country-inspired rock n' roll songs. Spring River has the loose, spontaneous feel of a live session; it's modern Americana at its best.

Amram's songs take a page from the little-known but influential 1960s American folk singer Vince Martin. In fact, she recorded an album of his music in 2011, the well-received Snow Shadows. Like her musical hero, Amram likes to tell stories, some of them simple and straightforward, some of them more involved, but all of them cliché-free and richly textured with layers of guitar, pedal steel, drums and her soaring, world-wise voice.

While "Spring River" and "Window Rock" are slow-building jams that could easily be stretched out to twenty minutes, maybe a pint apiece, "Should I Go Now" and "Another World" amble along pleasingly at a pint-nursing snail's pace. "Daughter of the Sun" is one of the prettiest songs you'll hear this year. Spring River shimmers late into the night. (Kingswood Records)