Katy Moffatt Loose Diamond

Moffat's been making records since the '70s and has been a bit snake-bit both professionally - why she hasn't had huge commercial success is a mystery to anybody who's heard her - and personally - she suffered a bout with tuberculosis at one point. Her vocals are clear and soaring with just a hint of a tear occasionally creeping in. Not surprisingly, producer Dave Alvin keeps things suitably unshowy and rootsy here, spotlighting the singer and the songs, all while seamlessly blending country, folk, blues and a little rock and providing a deft mix of acoustic and electric instruments. Moffatt delivers an optimistic version of the Drifters' "Fools Fall In Love" and duets with Alvin on the traditional "The Cuckoo." The pain is palpable in her version of Jo Carol Pierce's title track. How good is she? Good enough to redeem Hank William's Jr.'s "Stoned At The Jukebox," delivering a hard-edged honky-tonk weeper. Her version of the Blaster's "So Long Baby Goodbye" is tender and contemplative by contrast. Like the rest of Loose Diamonds, it shows a deceptive strength and resilience, not to mention authenticity and honesty. (Hightone)