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Cat Shell

When you first pop in Cat Shell's debut disc, Cat's Outta the Bag, you can't help but notice the retro sound of the lead-off track, "I'm Torn." It's full of simple and subtle guitar work, winsome sax, and the alluring vocal style that Shell is turning into her trademark. While this singer/songwriter calls Boca Raton home, she's got a sound that seems like it was nurtured in the juke joints of Louisiana or Mississippi. With jazz, blues, and folk-style musicianship, the disc is a nice addition to South Florida's music scene and helps give it some well-needed depth. Songs like "Night at Noon" and "After Midnight" take on love and relationships; the latter is the best song here. But this isn't the kind of pillow-talk baby-baby-baby style crooning that's hard to stomach if you're not in love. The songs hit with aplomb and fit most of the scenarios that love will drag you through. Even the tune "Peanut Butter & Jelly," which sounds like an outtake from a G. Love & Special Sauce track, delves into the joy of first connecting with a true love, but it's funny enough to avoid being cheesy. There's more to this disc than just amor, and "Category 5" is one of the bluesiest hurricane odes you'll ever hear. As a whole, Cat's Outta the Bag sounds like it was written strictly on feel and emotion, which isn't as common as it used to be. There's nothing intentionally poppy about it; you can think of the 10 songs on this disc as bedtime lullabies for adults.

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Jonathan Cunningham

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