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July 25, 2024

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Beth Waters
This Little Piggy (Mermaid Mafia)

By: Scott D. Lewis

If what the cringe-inducing Starship said was true, that "we built this city on rock 'n' roll," they must have been using the collective "we" and the city by the bay has been rebuilt by smart, sensitive and sexy singer-songwriters. Beth Waters is one of the workers, and she's one of the finest at her trade. Her third album, This Little Piggy, possibly a nod to her first child (scheduled for release at about the same time the album comes out), is easily her best and represents a giant artistic leap forward. It's as if all the elements that were there before ? her solid songwriting, filling arrangements, personal and poetic lyrics, memorable melodies, gently addictive hooks, sturdy structures and a voice that's equal parts worn and wonder ? have fully gelled together to form a cohesive and satisfying whole. It certainly doesn't hurt that she's ably assisted by the likes of Todd Sickafoose (from the band of fellow SF stunning songstress Noe Venable as well as Ani DiFranco employee), piano master Stephen Prutsman, Eamon Flynn and engineer Joe Chiccarelli who mixed five of the eleven tracks and has worked with the likes of Frank Zappa, U2, Elton John and Tori Amos (whose influence can be heard more than once) to name a few. Highlights: "Lifeguard," which starts off shy and slides into sly, secure and seductive; the hazy warmth and multi-layered, breathy vocals of "Get Off This Planet," that brings the overlooked greatness of Azure Ray straight to mind; "Dark Road to Hell" which finds Waters turning to her slinky, jazzy side and using her abused-angel voice to ride the fine line between menacing and miraculous; the title track that looks at the misery of an abusive home yet manages to find a balance between hurting and hope. Tucked at the end of this delicious gem of an album is a tasty treat: Waters takes on Paul Simon's unconcerned "Slip Slidin' Away," slowing it down and hollowing it out to expose the song's masked fears of encroaching human vacancy. This Little Piggy is going to market and This Little Piggy should go home ? with you.

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