Carrie Newcomer - Kindred Spirits Album as Reviewed by the Phantom TollboothGenerous Best-Of collection from talented singer/songwriter spanning two decades of literate, well-crafted folk music.

Rounder Records (2012)
19 Tracks

Drawing from her two-plus decades of music making, Kindred Spirits collects songs from twelve of Newcomer's previous releases, dating back to 1991' s Visions and Dreams. The majority of the tracks come from the second portion of her career, with nearly half of the tracks dating from 2008 or later.

Country-folk purveyers like Alison Krauss and Mary Chapin Carpenter – both of whom appear on the release – are rough points of reference, although Newcomer's rich, sometimes husky voice (which may be an aquired taste for some) is closer to the latter than the former.

Chronological order isn't followed on the release, but, given the underlying, and unifying, thread that knits Newcomer's folky, mostly acoustically-based, material from various eras together, this is hardly a drawback. Longtime fans and completists will appreciate the two new cuts, the remixed "Betty's Diner" and the pair of live tracks from the out-of-print Bare to the Bone album.

Newcomer's Quaker faith and Progressive Spirituality heavily influence her compositions and may be a deal breaker for some. That said, her songwriting and instrumental skills are indeed impressive and Spirits does a first-rate job of highlighting the high points and bringing her ample talent into suitably sharp focus.

– Bert Gangl