Rolling Stone - 4 stars out of 5 -- "Subtlety and simplicity also define this set of acoustic songs....A commanding poet, Shelley populates her songs with elements unmoored by time..."
Personnel: Joan Shelley (vocals, guitar, banjo); Nathan Salsburg (guitar).
Audio Mixer: Kevin Ratterman.
Recording information: Louisville, KY (01/16/2015-01/17/2015).
Arrangers: Nathan Salsburg; Joan Shelley.
The third solo outing from the spell-casting Kentucky songstress, Over and Even is a breezy, lyrically bold, sonically beautiful soft barrage of bucolic country-folk that evokes Linda Thompson, Joni Mitchell, Vashti Bunyan, and Hem. It would be easy to peg Shelley and crafty six-string co-conspirator Nathan Salsburg as the Bluegrass State's answer to Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, but they lack that duos' trad-folk stridency and penchant for dust bowl pageantry, and their particular brand of mountain music feels much more rooted in the immigrant-rich Appalachian traditions, where a misty morning is just as likely to invoke fog rising over the Shannon or the Thames as it is the Mississippi. Recorded in an old farmhouse with very few takes, the 12-track set feels rooted but not rootsy. Highlights like "Brighter Than the Blues," "No More Shelter," "Stay on My Shore," and the hypnotic title track are as spectral as they are homey, due in large part to Shelley's unfussy, yet poetic lyrics and warm, open-hearted voice, which is easy like Sunday morning, but carries with it the burdens of the week prior. Salsburg peppers each of these songs with tasteful runs seasoned with generous amounts of reverb, and between the two, it's a wonder that they manage to keep things from simply rising up out of the valley and into the ether, but like fellow Kentuckian Bonnie "Prince" Billy, who lends his high and lonesome croon to three of the quietly magnificent Over and Even's best cuts, there's a bold stroke of genial Southerness that runs through the music and keeps things tempered, honest, and effortlessly authentic, despite a predilection for eccentricity. ~ James Christopher Monger