Houston Music

Teresa Kolo

The songs on Teresa Kolo's album sound like they were written in a small, hot, cramped room. They're chock-full of wandering thoughts, fragmented images, close friends and family who occupy a lot of time and a tight inner space. Kolo's raspy, staccato vocals, sung to acoustic guitar rhythms, are the sounds of a woman used to talking to herself or maybe to another soul late at night.

Inside that cramped room is a woman who works as a waitress or at some other expendable job ("Hazard Street"), who finds unexpected grace in a collection of poems ("Book") and who endures a series of losers because sometimes sleeping with a jerk is better than sleeping alone. The lyrics are slightly obsessive and alternate between emotional weakness ("My Mistake"), nostalgia ("Pretty") and hopefulness ("Bloom Late"). Overlaying this confined space, there's the album title, Carapace, the protective, bonelike covering over certain animals like turtles and armadillos.

Kolo's interior monologues have an innocent, geeky quality; discovering her songs is like finding your way into her inner circle. For those people who sympathetically vibrate with Kolo, this album will be a major find. For those souls who prefer songwriting that is incredibly smart, scathingly funny or terrifically witty, that's not the way Kolo works -- at least not at this time.

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Aaron Howard