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Caroline Herring

Wellspring – 2003 (Blue Corn Music)

Reviewed by Brian Baker

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CDs by Caroline Herring

With a style that walks the fine line between country and folk and a voice that trembles and soars like a deep South Dar Williams, Mississippi native Caroline Herring follows up the brilliance of her acclaimed debut, 2001's "Twilight," with equal measure on her sophomore effort.

Although Herring has only spent the last four years in Austin, she easily reflects the lessons that she has gleaned from the city's musical luminaries. But an education is only as good as the student, and Herring proves to be a star pupil, blessed with songwriting and performance gifts that show she has brought as much to Austin's table as she's taken away. Herring's range is considerable, from the classic country moan of "Jewels" (featuring Kelly Willis on backing vocals) to the jauntily authentic folk of "Trace" to the understated Lyle Lovett-like swing of "Texas Two Step" to the bluegrass-tinged country/folk of "Magnolias."

Through all these subtle stylistic shifts, Herring tells her minutely detailed stories and provides the appropriate soundtrack with an innate effortlessness and a dusty beauty. That's the sort of thing that happens in Texas without being taught.