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CD Review: Susan Kane 

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Susan Kane is the real thing. The lower Hudson Valley-based singer-songwriter has just released her second album, Highway Bouquet, and it’s chock-full of great songs and great singing, all set off with a shimmering production job from multi-instrumentalist and Suzanne Vega side man Billy Masters (who called in ringers like Lisa Gutkin, Fred Gillen Jr., and Marc Muller to assist). Kane would have been comfortable in the “Mellow Mafia” of late-’70s Los Angeles, but her music has a stronger country edge and occasionally even leans into the alt.folk territory of her peers. Since Kane covers the Eric Kaz/Libby Titus chestnut “Love Has No Pride” on the album, one assumes she won’t mind the comparison to Linda Ronstadt. But, truth be told, Karla Bonoff—who wrote many of Ronstadt’s most enduring songs—is an even stronger touchstone. And that’s not a bad thing, especially when you combine Kane’s irresistible voice—you can live in it for days—with hooks as big as those on the lush, anthemic “Ring the Bells,” the witty “Big Baby,” and the intimate, acoustic “Tenderhearted.” Kane also covers “To Lay Me Down,” a lesser-known gem from Jerry Garcia’s first solo album, which will certainly pull in casual listeners from the Dead side of the tracks. Further proof of Kane’s Me Decade leanings is the fact that Highway Bouquet clocks in at a vinyl-friendly 41 minutes. If only other songwriters would take the hint and offer this kind of quality, rather than simple quantity.

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