Bosque Brown Baby

At a time when too many roots-oriented singer-songwriter records sound homogenous, it's a treat to discover a record as refreshingly different as this one. Bosque Brown are a group but one creatively dominated by the voice and songs of Mara Lee Miller. Their 2005 debut, Plays Mara Lee Miller, and following EP, Cerro Verde, scored praise in their home state of Texas and Baby deserves to spread the word. Miller is confident enough in her striking voice to sing a bunch of these songs a cappella, and on a tune like "On and Off (Part 1)," it's as haunting as the sight of a tumbleweed blowing down a dusty Texan road. The production by Chris Flemmons (Baptist Generals) is suitably spare, never overshadowing that pristine voice. Plaintive pedal steel, soft percussion washes and lush keyboards all are employed judiciously, while Miller's sister Gina adds backing vocals to some songs. Comparison points might be with a less affected Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star) or, as on "Train Song," the Be Good Tanyas, but Miller emerges as a truly original talent. (Burnt Toast Vinyl)