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Kate Ellis Kate Ellis
Album: Carve Me Out
Label: River Rose Records
Tracks: 10

I have been wooed - and wowed, even - by a succession of female singer/songwriters lately: Carter Sampson, Holly Macve, plus Joan Shelley: a trio of acts I saw close up and personal at the recent Kilkenny Roots Festival, readily spring to mind.

Alynda Lee Segarra with her band Hurray For The Riff Raff and Margo Price have also been in knockout form of with albums and live performances while Lucinda Williams' recent output is a Godsend to fans. Kalyn Fay, too, with last year's "Bible Belt" deserves praise and hallelujahs.

So Kate Ellis is now joining this illustrious, talented list as her album, Carve Me Out, is a warming and deliciously crafted selection of songs that repeatedly and emphatically belie the fact that this is a debut for the singer/songwriter, born in Louisiana, raised in New York and now based in London.

She glows throughout with songs that unerringly embed in your


Kate completed a law degree before embarking on the music-making trail. She has produced songs oozing compassion and yearning to effortlessly echo southern country/folk/roots' sounds and tones, clearly passed on by her dad who once played guitar with Hank Williams on the famous Louisiana Hayride, yes, the very one where Elvis and Johnny Cash first came to the fore.

There's a truthful, emotional pull and compelling eloquence throughout the ten tracks that highlight a sincere songwriter blessed with an eloquence that's neither forced nor hurried. Kate's words flow and pitch as the songs' stories unfold. It's OK to think of Emmylou and Nanci Griffith if comparisons are needed.

Opener, Don't Lie To Me is bumping country and Paper Scissors Rock is a rock kick gem out of the Zoe Muth and Lynne Hanson songbook. On Night Before The Dawn, Kate's tender vocals become captivating as they are nudged along by fiddle and mellow guitar.

There's a languid, honeyed duet on Going Against the Grain with pedal steel keeping the country groove going and Holding The Whole Thing bursts into life with, as it would appear, Tom Petty crashing into the studios. Inside is a smoochy, unhurried love song and the title track that closes the album is similarly a sit-in-the-shade-and-relax kind of song.

Ones You Love The Most, released as a single, and I Believe are back-to-back wonderful, unbelievably beautiful, engrossing, considered and worthy of unstinting praise. Ones You Love The Most offers up lap slide steel guitar and a chorus that stays as close to you as discreet perfume. "I believe, no one has ever seen what I see / The beauty of you is just plain to me" is spelled out in I Believe as her assembled musicians rally round her with a musical blanket for comfort. It's a classic.

This is a gorgeous album with soul, heart, passion, loving and boundless country/folk style. There's an image of Kate on her website where she's seated in a truck and is looking behind her - but the road ahead of her looks far from bumpy given her songwriting talents.

Mike Ritchie