Review: Joan Shelley's Self-Titled Fourth LP Is Exquisitely Hushed Folk

Our take on the Kentuckian's latest album

Kentuckian Joan Shelley's fourth album is self-titled

If Nick Drake and Sandy Denny had had a kid, she may have grown up to be Joan Shelley, a Kentucky folkie whose exquisitely hushed fourth album sounds like a collection of the world's most downcast sea shanties. As guitars gently curl and coil around her, Shelley recalls romantic expectations and disappointments in terse, almost haiku-style verse ("I've seen the sun rise over you/Now I watch it setting down"), and only the slightest uptick in the beat signifies she's in love. Producer Jeff Tweedy wisely keeps the focus on Shelley's unsullied voice, adding perfect touches like squeaky lead guitar on "I Got What I Wanted." He never rains on Shelley's parade; she does it all on her own, and beautifully.