Liz Durrett: 'You Live Alone'

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Liz Durrett is the niece of fellow Athens, Ga.-based musician Vic Chesnutt. Ben McCormick hide caption

itoggle caption Ben McCormick

Singer-songwriter Liz Durrett is finally stepping out of her shell on her third and latest album, Outside Our Gates. Known for her sparse and somber Southern folk music, the Athens, Ga.-based musician has put together a release that still has plenty of gloom but is now balanced by over a dozen guest musicians, including her uncle, Vic Chesnutt.

Outside Our Gates opens in a familiar manner, with rhythmic acoustic guitar and her rich vocals on the song "Wake to Believe." But as Durrett sings of a nightmare plaguing her sleep, the urgency in her voice takes the song into a crescendo that includes dark strings backed by an ominous drum beat. It's just the first sign of what's to come on: lush instrumentation and bigger arrangements than Durrett has had in the past.

"Wild as Them" includes layers of bright horns, drums and electric guitar which make the song seem almost cheery, until Durrett is heard crooning, "I looked for your bones in the woods / I looked for your bones, or any sign of where you were." The themes of loss and longing are ones she explores often on Outside Our Gate, including on another of the album's relatively upbeat songs, "You Live Alone."

Despite some changes in her music, Durrett's latest effort still offers a few of the elegantly stripped-down songs fans have grown accustomed to, such as the too-brief "Lost Hiker." But whichever style or tone Durrett plays with, it's her remarkably emotive and mourning voice that remains the focal point of Outside Our Gate.

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