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The line of musical soldiers widening the Americana trail continues to increase, whether the attack leans in a hard-hitting, bad-ass direction or concocts idyllic portraits (“Chopping wood and carrying water, everything was better”). Zoe Muth is among the 35-or-so Americanaists who continues to open my ears by barely straddling those approaches — an uneasy stance that often yields surprises.

World of Strangers adheres to the same-ol’ story arcs Muth's been weaving — vignettes on ill-fated love, economic hardship, and lonely women are as comfy to traditional country/folk lovers as patchwork quilts. But with well-honed electric steel guitar, restrained mandolin, and an offhand kit player, Muth pumps new juice into the cry-in-your-beer vault; especially with “Mama Needs a Margarita,” “Make Me Change My Mind,” and pedal-to-the-metal traveler, “Too Shiny.”

Gleaned from her 2013 Seattle-to-Austin relocation, Muth’s latest collaborators/Lost High Rollers can waken back-of-the-neck hairs. That no particular tune steals the World of Strangers show seems irrelevant when the ensemble weaves the tapestry of “Little Piece of History”: shy keyboards, shadowy bass, burbling lower guitar washes and cascading steel guitar notes form a tender cradle for Muth’s beautifully textured, no-big-deal vocals.

  • Album: World of Strangers
  • Artist: Zoe Muth
  • Label: Signature Sounds
  • Songs: (1) Little Piece of History (2) Mama Needs a Margarita (3) Make Me Change My Mind (4) Annabelle (5) April Fool (6) Somebody I Know (7) Too Shiny (8) Waltz of the Wayward Wind (9) Taken All You Wanted (10) What Did You Come Back Here For?
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