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Album Review

Distillation is an excellent name for this album. Rather than being of derivative of roots music, bluegrass, country blues, and folk, McKeown distills these genres. She melted down these styles, incorporated the spirit of them, and came up with her own voice. All but one track here is original. They reach back into remote, rustic regions for sounds and ideas. McKeown is a mirror that reflects it all in new form. The Virginia native comes up with a sound that is part gypsy jazz, part blues, part folk-pop. The one cover is an excellent rendition of a Tin Pin Alley classic, "Mustn't Kick It Around."

Customer Reviews

Crafty, Clever, Weird, and Wonderful. Simply Sensational.

I am a huge fan of all of EM's music, but Distillation is still my favorite record (although Small Deviant Things is a close second). I can't think of any other "singer/songwriter" (I don't think that label captures who she is or what she does) who can do so many different things with so few resources at her disposal. Give McKeown a guitar and a mic (and throw in a drummer and a 4-track) and she'll take you on the musical ride of your life. Distillation's jazzy, folk-funk-fusion opening - the super sexy Queen of Quiet and Blackbirds - have riffs, solo licks, and cryptically clever lyrical refrains that will hook you quick and draw you in. What follows is a highly original, eclectic series of musical and poetic reflections on themes as disparate as sexual politics to secrets and social/religious taboos (Queen of Quiet; Didn't They; La Petite Mort) to the dubious seductions of fame and fortune (Fast as I Can), to intoxicating and intoxicated, "hard" love (Love in Two Parts). EM's musicality is unparalleled, even at this early stage in her career. Experimenting with so many styles in what was only her second album, one might expect some signs of youthful dilettantism. You won't find them here. EM is already a master of multiple crafts, and she's only getting more masterful as she branches out into new domains. She's a guitar wizard and a songwriting phenomenon. Never boring, always surprising, McKeown will keep you on your toes (and keep your toes tapping).


Born: 1977 in Northampton, MA

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Raised in Fredricksburg, VA, singer/songwriter Erin McKeown began her folk career by performing in local clubs and coffeehouses at night. By day, she attended Brown University to study ethnomusicology, a field that would eventually fuel the diversity and depth of her own music. In 1995, McKeown entered the mid-Atlantic song contest held by the songwriters' association in Washington, DC, and finished as a semi-finalist. With proof that others believed in her talent, she worked hard to found a label...
Full Bio
Distillation, Erin McKeown
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Customer Ratings

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