[ Originally published on: Thursday, May 06, 2004 ]
TALES OF NORTHERN CLIMES:
Northampton songwriter Chris Pureka's new CD, ''Driving North,'' arrives with the chill of a retreating winter's last exhale. In its sparseness, her recording seems a woman's updating of Springsteen's ''Nebraska.'' The 11 tightly coiled compositions ride low emotionally, but rock with rhythms of the road. A performer like Pureka gets to see a lot of the road these days, now that she and her guitar are in demand - she has dates next week in Oregon, where she will open for Kris Delmhorst and headline at a women's festival. Tonight, though, she enchants a hometown crowd at the Iron Horse in Northampton, with a 7 p.m. CD release party. (Meg Hutchinson opens; tickets are $13 at the door.)
''Silo Song,'' on the new CD, uses that farm building as a metaphor for the place people shovel secrets, storing away hurts that need air and sunshine. ''3 A.M.'' extends a plaintive, late-night plea for reconnection with a missing friend. The title track ''Driving North,'' which closes her disc, charts a course away from the fortress of someone's disregard. The best company, on Pureka's dispiriting ride, is the artist's ability to draw a personal voice from the strings of her guitar, a talent best displayed on the instrumental ''Reprieve.'' Pureka's singing voice is like homespun fabric that, when she lets emotion rise, becomes flocked with gold. Even when her songs dip into depression, the love lifted from Pureka's frets is as bright as high beams.
Daily Hampshire Gazette: Thursday, May 6th 2004