Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards – California Calling

Album Review | Compass Records | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 4/5

There’s an immediate warmth to Laura Cortese’s new album California Calling, which features her band, the Dance Cards, namely Valerie Thompson (cello), Jenna Moynihan (fiddle) and Natalie Bohrn (bass), together with multi-instrumentalist/producer Sam Kassirer.  Musically speaking, the songs cover a lot of ground, ranging from the pop sensibilities of Stockholm and the title song “California Calling” to the rootsy grounding of the opener “The Low Hum” and the traditional “Swing and Turn”.  With an initial Beach Boys-styled harmony vocal, “Hold On” builds to Eleanor Rigby-styled proportions, demonstrating just how far Laura Cortese has come along in terms of her musicality since those formative days on Boston’s acoustic music scene.  With such songs as “Pace Myself”, the chosen single from the album, we see that this is no ordinary Americana album, rather a richly interwoven and extraordinarily well-constructed acoustic-based pop record, likely to reach a much broader audience than the usual fare.