Maren Christensen's 2006 album, Ready for You Now, was a compilation about finding one's way in the world. On her new release, Finally Red, Christensen seems to be a lot closer to finding—and making—her own way, as suggested by the lyrics, "We've got to live in the world the way we want it to be," or "I know what I want—know who I am." An appealing array of countrified world beats—including a little zydeco and a hint of samba—combine with straightforward folk for a diverse yet well-balanced selection. While Christensen's lyrics on occasion can seem too earnest, for the most part they're clever and well-written, whether jubilant or pensive.
The full name of this ensemble of players is Maren Christensen and Her Really Big Small Band, which gives a good idea of the sonic variety and depth of talent on this recording. The standard guitar/bass/drums/vocals quintet is joined by accordion, flute and rain stick, a refreshing alternative to standard folk recordings. (Although, the soprano sax seems somewhat out of place.) Finally Red is about growth and strength in life, but it's equally about musical growth and strength, which Christensen has certainly developed.
Maren Christensen plays a CD release show at the Elks Club Saturday, March 13, at 8 PM. $10.