SPEAKING EASY

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Jo Serrapere slinks, shimmies and bops her way through the first half of this record as she pays tribute to pre-Depression era folk blues and emergent jazz musicians. With her engaging and knowing vocal delivery, Serrapere would not be out of place in a Prohibition speakeasy. The lyrics have a '90s, postfeminist spin that gives the songs currency, though. "I'm not your silhouette to contour all your life/or fill you up with compliments/to cover up your size" she challenges on "Throw Rug Blues." And her version of "C.C.Rider" is light years away from Mitch Ryder, evoking the image of pickin' away in a rocking chair on a Georgia farmhouse porch to an audience of one. Simpler times brought into the now. The second half of the CD consists of earnestly traditional folk songs -- not as engaging as the first half. Serrapere is far more delightful as Betty Boop and Clara Bow than as Joan Baez. Over all, very well done, though.

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