On her latest CD, "Over the Hills," the warmth of Kaplansky's voice paired with her pensive songs makes her music sound like wistful lullabies: The swaying "Manhattan Moon" captures a maternal perspective, while the sparse "Today's the Day" reflects on the passing of her father, pianist/mathematician Irving Kaplansky. The album's title track is particularly stunning. Its touching meditation on the passing of time is enhanced by Eliza Gilkyson's striking harmonies.
With songs as strong as Kaplansky's, it's a shame that half of "Hills" is devoted to covers. She infuses them with the same melancholy tone that pervades the rest of "Hills" but often without the poignancy of her own material. Although Loudon Wainwright III's "Swimming Song" gains an especially nostalgic tone under her mournful voice, her treatment of "Ring of Fire" seems to ramble without the peppy horns of Johnny Cash's version.
-- Catherine P. Lewis