Lovers I Am The West

This musical project of Carolyn Berk sure sounds ramshackle at first but over the course of the album the minimum instrumentation and lo-tech electronics create an intimate release that has surprising charm. Berk has a simple and graceful voice but what hooks the listener here is not the quality but the inflections that Berk gives her delivery. Take "I Am What I Don't Know," which combines a hushed, canned beat with ambling folk accompaniment, giving Berk the right atmosphere to pine with appropriate drama. There's also a streak of pop throughout, as "Wrestling With Horses" combines Berk's layered vocals and a slightly disco beat to great success. The album closes with the appropriately titled "(This Ain't) The Last Song," which sounds like a mini-epic, with Berk's soaring performance among dirge-paced layers of electronic fuzz. It's daring, soulful, intricate and, like the rest of the album, an absolutely lovely surprise. (Pop Heart)