album reviews

Sonya Kitchell
This Storm
Decca/Velour (2008)

For most teenagers, such lines as "I'm going away for a long, long time/And I do not know what I'm bound to find" would be scrawled in a forlorn journal entry chronicling the journey off to college. But 19-year-old Sonya Kitchell sings those lines with the wisdom and sorrow of a woman twice her age on the breathtaking "Who Knows After All," a breakup song delivered with the dreaminess of the Cowboy Junkies' Margo Timmins and the deep vocal texture of Billie Holiday.

The rest of "This Storm," Kitchell's second release, showcases that same vocal maturity: "So Lonely" captures solitude with more melancholy than melodrama, while "Effortless" blends a breezy pop tune with a voice that sounds like she has witnessed countless frustrations. A few songs do reveal her youth ("Robin in the Snow" is a strained metaphor about separation in relationships), but "This Storm" is a refreshing break from the overwrought pop coming from most artists Kitchell's age.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 3 October 2008, Page WE08
.: This Storm on