Ortolan Time on a String

"Talented beyond her years" is one of those descriptions that can also read as "pretty okay, considering." However, unlike the current conveyor belt of Disney products, Ortolan vocalist Stephanie Cottingham, now 16, refreshingly sounds like she was raised on a diet of the Be Good Tanyas and '60s girl groups. One of three sisters, plus a sister-in-law, the group's upper age range peaks at 23. Producer Daniel Smith carefully eases the songs just far enough out of the rec room jam sessions that likely spawned them. The rhythm section have a Beat Happening relativity that enlivens the songs with first-take energy. This warmth and the lack of studio glamour on the just-so piano and guitar melodies connect Ortolan to the oldies/roots tradition that's bleeding out of even indie releases these days. The range of tunes suffers a little from this slightly amateur approach, but what's there will have you reaching for your lemonade and spring knitwear. (Sounds Familyre)