Po' Girl Vagabond Lullabies

Taking more than a few pages out of the Be Good Tanyas’ book of alt-folk, Tanyas founding member Trish Klein's Po' Girl project is a lovely rustic blend of train-hobo, sing-song tunesmithing and trade-off string strumming, pickin' and bowin', with a wee bit of beatboxing thrown in for the fun of it. The fact that each Po' Girl (Allison Russell and new member Diona Davies fill out the line-up) is a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist means that Vagabond Lullabies is camp-fiery and collaborative with fiddles, clarinet, penny whistle, slide guitar, banjo and electric guitar weaving deliciously behind the vocal harmonies. Having talent like Ani DiFranco, Carolyn Mark, Rae Spoon, Frazey Ford, Kate Fenner, Chris Brown and Luther Wright showing up to play doesn't hurt either. And this may be the only album around that curiously has two different songs with the same name (that'd be "Poor Girl,” and, uh, "Poor Girl”). No harm though, as each is distinctive in its own right. Even with the old blues, swing, folk and country influences, it is CR Avery's contribution that really separates this album from other old time work. He contributed to Po' Girl's debut and shone with his mouth percussion on "Bleak St.” This time around hearing him rap and beatbox over banjo and acoustic guitar tunes like "Driving” and "Take the Long Way,” on an album dominated by sweet female voices, adds a completely new hipness and hopefully new direction. Let's see if future Po' Girl records will include more of this original take on the folk genre. (Nettwerk)