Poughkeepsie singer-songwriter Kari Spieler’s debut CD is called Rough Draft, but it certainly doesn’t sound like one. The album was expertly produced and recorded in Woodstock by Paul Shiavo and Pete Caigan and mixed by Roman Klun, and features local luminaries Adam Widoff on guitars and Ross Rice on keys (Shiavo and Caigan play bass and drums, respectively).
Spieler has become a presence regionally, turning in shows at her hometown haunt the Cubbyhole and at the Rosendale Street Fair, but it’s the year she spent studying in Israel recently that’s surely added the most perspective and depth to her work.
Rough Draft has a warm, sitting-around-the-fireplace sound. From the soaring “JAK (Goodbye),” Spieler shows an enticing, understated confidence. The pensive “Stay Here” has a whispering, in-your-ear vocal approach beneath which the instruments simply sizzle, while “Beautiful” is a dark and delicious ode to sighs and thighs.
“Staring Straight,” an allegory to love gone wrong, is a hypnotic highlight; here, Rice’s gorgeous piano and Schiavo’s Graham Maby–esque bass groove allow Spieler’s engaging melody to break free from gravity. She closes with “I Will Be,” which holds the provocative line “To all the boys who compensate by being bigger dicks than they have.”