Amy LaVere - Died of Love 

A bit of a stop-gap product while waiting for LaVere's full-length follow-up to the still-going-strong Anchors & Anvils, Died of Love is a five-song, 22-minute hodgepodge of an EP: two traditional songs, two covers, and a new version of the A&A standout "Washing Machine." There are none of the songwriting surprises here that animated LaVere's breakout record. As a result, the record mostly cements the musicality of a trio that also includes Steve Selvidge on guitar and Paul Taylor on drums. Taylor and the bass-slapping LaVere give the opening "Railroad Boy (Died of Love)" and the Michelle Shocked cover "If Love Was a Train" the locomotive rhythm the titles demand, while Selvidge's expressive playing creates sparks from beginning to end on both songs. LaVere gets a torch-song workout on Tom Waits' "Green Grass." And I've become so accustomed to thinking of Selvidge as a guitar master only, I was surprised to hear him ably take the mic on the slinky traditional number "Lazarus." — CH

Grade: B+

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