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Album Review

Dryland's essays and musical sketches plunge the listener into sensitive and moving tales accompanied by Chris Pureka's Stevie Nicks-style guitar plucking and distinctive voice. Listen to her mournful fade on "Momentary Thief," the sixth track on her second full-length disc: it's an extraordinary tune that builds with each listen. Much like Jackie DeShannon on her underappreciated masterpiece You Know Me, this young singer/songwriter has much to offer. Introspective and deep, the landscape is akin to Neil Young's Harvest without the explosions of "Alabama" and "Words." Pureka keeps that subtle approach close to the vest from song to song — "Everything Is Free" feeling those soulful chord changes while Allison Miller's drums and Lyndell Montgomery's bass keep pace — and provides a solid embrace for the catchy melodies. The packaging is totally in sync with the country element, the voice and violin tightly aligned in "Compass Rose." The songs are four to five or more minutes long and Mark Alan Miller's superlative production allows them to sparkle without getting cluttered. When Ferron's Shadows on a Dime was released in 1989, it heralded a new approach. Pureka is not pioneering in that fashion, but she has definitely taken up the mantle that Ferron provided and the results are satisfying and full of musical intrigue. If Chris Pureka can continue to deliver music along these lines in the future, she will be a contender and Dryland will be a cornerstone for her fans to dip back into and enjoy. At 51 and a half minutes, Dryland is generous and important.

Dryland, Chris Pureka
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