Brandi Shearer: Close to Dark 

"Been around the world so many times," croons Brandi Shearer on the opening line of her debut CD, Close To Dark. Around the world, indeed. When the Oregon farm girl left home for college as a foreign exchange student, she supported herself by singing American blues and pop standards in clubs and small bars in Hungary and France. It was then that she discovered the music of Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughn and other jazz and blues singers. When she returned to America, the influences of foreign travel and early American jazz blossomed into a smoky, sultry vocal style and a smoldering stage presence that won raves while performing with the Robin Nolan Trio at SXSW and on the Gypsy Caravan Tour with Dave Grisman's band.

Shearer's debut CD showcases her singer-songwriter talents in blues-influenced and country-tinged songs. The relaxed styling of tracks like "That's How You'll Know" and "Swampland" resemble breezy Norah Jones tunes. Shearer's sultry voice slinks ominously through the obsessive "You're Mine," while the insistent "Yes, Yes, Yes" reveals a glimpse of her rock 'n' roll side. Most of the songs were captured in a single take, adding to the album's warm, spontaneous feeling. Its mellow, bluesy vibe is versatile enough for adding to a casual dinner party playlist or for puttering around the house on a Saturday morning. Download a free song at Amoeba.com.

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