Although interpretive singing (in the well-known pop sense) seemed to be a disappearing art form in the early 21st century, certain artists proudly upheld the tradition. One of these performers is Maura O'Connell, a distinctive, masterful vocalist who invests her slightly husky alto (with a touch of vibrato) in some of the very best songs from many genres, including country, rock balladry, Celtic folk, and contemporary folk. O'Connell's DON'T I KNOW continues the high standards set by her previous albums, here focusing on the song-craft of Kim Richey, Patty Griffin, and Jim Lauderdale, among others. The moods here range from heartbreaking regret ("Going Down in Flames") to cautious pride ("Didn't I") to a mix of resignation and self-assurance ("Spinning Wheel," which features some snarling electric lead guitar). Throughout, O'Connell sings with a remarkable combination of quiet dignity and soulful fervor, and Jerry Douglas's production is both sparkling and understated. Some albums are simply an array of songs, others are thoughtful, comforting companions--DON'T I KNOW belongs to the latter class.
Read this review on the Tower Records site.