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Jackie Bristow

Shot of Gold – 2016 (Montana Music)

Reviewed by Kevin Oliver

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CDs by Jackie Bristow

In her native New Zealand, Jackie Bristow is considered a country singer, but her storytelling, genre-crossing style places her more in the realm of Holly Williams or Nanci Griffith as an artist more at home in the singer-songwriter world.

That doesn't mean there is a lack of twang in certain places; see "Rollin' Stone" for a saucy independent woman rant not out of Kacey Musgraves' range. More often, however, Bristow is in a mellower acoustic mood made less lethargic via her knack for crisply rendered lyrics. "Broken Record" is a gentle, barely strummed ballad that allows her to stretch vocally on a soulful refrain, while "I Don't Wanna Come Down" boasts the memorable opening line "Your love's like a shot of heroin."

"Fallen Youth" takes both sides in creating a country lament around a war story that will leave the listener in as reflective a mood as the song inhabits in examining that aspect of our culture. It is in this melding of myriad styles and moods that Bristow finds her best artistic voice, shades of Karla Bonoff or Bonnie Raitt at their most meaningful and melodic where the method of delivery is as effective as the material itself.