Sara Hickman Spiritual Appliances

On her sixth LP, Hickman has taken over sole production chores and she's done a fine job. All 13 tracks of the bright, airy, jangle pop have a rootsy edge and are full of memorable hooks. The songs may sound simple and catchy, but if you delve underneath they're far from basic. They have the same sort of jazzy intelligence that graces the writing of Joan Armatrading and Joni Mitchell. The backing is energetic and nimble, always supportive and never intrusive. But by far the best part is her voice. Reminiscent at times of both Marti Jones and Tracey Chapman, it has an uncommon vitality and charm. Like a gemstone, it's full of facets that reflect and refract emotions - colours come and go and reappear later. It's continually fresh and enticing. (Shanachie)