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CD REVIEW: Amy LaVere's Stranger Me

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THE DEAL: Singer Amy LaVere releases third studio effort full of songs about frustration and emotional solitude.

THE GOOD: The music slowly builds on the album's opening track, "Damn Love Song," leading into the soft and sweet vocals of LaVere, served up with the spice of "Here's your damn love song." The Louisiana-born LaVere may have grown up in Detroit, but there's still a Southern style and charm about her vocals and musical intent. It's a bluesy form of rock with hints of retro rhythms that defines her sound. There's an innocent quality to her voice that only packs more punch when she offers a kiss-off or moment of anger in lyrical content — "I didn't sign up for this ... I'm stomping out of here," she sings with the sweetness of honey that only adds to the sting. She finds more of a country/folk style for "Red Banks" and the playful rhythm of "A Great Divide" is infectious. She can also conjure up the slow and sultry spirit of Billie Holiday in "Often Happens" and a trio of other tunes.

THE BAD: No complaints on what could be the singer's strongest album yet.

THE VERDICT: Getting better with age is fitting here. LaVere has a unique quality about her, but her songwriting — in music and lyrical forms — contained here is some of the strongest she's released. She's performing at the Stage Door Theater on July 23.

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