Stephanie Bettman
Get Close to Me

Stephanie Bettman is a fiddle player, songwriter, and singer whose work might be closest to country music — indeed might fit well in many country playlists — but whose sound and style also brings in touches of jazz, folk, and bluegrass. Her voice is an interesting contrast and compliment to the rough hewn idea of country, though: Bettman’s singing recalls the soaring soprano of Joan Baez or the distinctive phrasing of Frances Black. With her playing on the fiddle she draws the listener right in from the opening notes of the title track, Get Close to Me. That’s not the inviting country teaser the title might suggest; instead it’s a rather haunting exploration of the nature of love. Haunting or haunted is a word which fits much of Bettman’s writing on this collection. With the exception of the funny and slightly sarcastic I Love Ya Honey, her characters are for the most part working their ways through the darker sides of life. Titles such as Lulu Wants to Die, The Letting Go, and Seeds of Doubt begin to give the clue about this. That may be one of the reason Bettman’s finding good success in bluegrass circles, too: she’s mastered that bluegrass art of pairing a dark lyric with a powerful upbeat melody. Though her music and her experiences in film, theater, and other aspects of the performing arts have taken her from Korea to California, this is her debut recording. It will be interesting to see how her musical career evolves. She’s an artist to watch.

Kerry Dexter is a contributing writer at the folk and world music magazine Dirty Linen. and the.former folk music editor at VH1.com. She also writes about music, the arts, and creative practice at the award winning blogMusic Road.

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