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Mary Battiata & Little Pink Mary Battiata & Little Pink
Album: The Heart, Regardless
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 14

A Virginia-based Italian-American Americana singer-songwriter who formerly worked as a Washington Post journalist, serving as foreign correspondent in war-torn Bosnia, and whose band name is a homage to, well, The Band, Battiata has been likened to a mash up of Emmylou, Dolly and Richard & Linda Thompson, though presumably with more emphasis on Linda. Backed by Tim Pruitt on electric guitar, bassist Alex Weber, Ed Hough behind the kit and Dave Hadley handling pedal steel duties, with assorted guests that include The Seldom Scene's Dudley Connell on harmonies and award-winning banjo player Mike Munford, this is her third full-length release and one that deserves to widen awareness beyond her southern states horizons.

Kicking off with the jaunty bluegrass dappled 'Sun That I Could Count On', it's a primarily uptempo affair, shuffling through the honky tonk with 'Six Miles Out', tumbling through the cascading chords of 'Disappearing Ink', kicking up the Cash-country twangabilly dust (and a little yodelling) on Connell duet 'Can'tTake My Mind Off You' and the equally bouncy '20 Words'.

These are well balanced with a fine clutch of slower numbers, particular stand outs being the

waltzing around the barroom dance floor love rat-themed 'Things You Say And Don't Say' and, striking a more serious lyrical note, 'Tall Timbers', a wistful five-minute song of growing emotional detachment and loss of innocence set in 18th century Chesapeake Bay and featuring banjo, mandolin and fiddle, and the traditional English folk weave of sombre 'March 16', a powerful, tribal percussion pulsing anti-war number concerning the 1988 poison gas attack by Saddam Hussein's forces on the Kurdish city of Halabja in northern Iraq.

Chris Watling on accordion and Anne Roberts-Gevalt on fiddle, it ends with the heartache waltzing 'Sing Me A Landscape', a lovely final touch to an album that, while it may be mining generic country territory, has come up with a real motherlode.

Mike Davies