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Tywanna Jo Baskette | Fancy Blue (Sweet Tea/Terminus)
Nashville-based Tywanna Jo Baskette arrives fully formed with an ambitious collection of songs almost too intimate for comfort. Like fellow Southerner Daniel Johnston, Baskette seems either unable or unwilling to shroud her intimacy in crafted metaphor, but remains enigmatic enough to inspire closer attention. Using local folk and country music alongside nursery rhymes as her starting point, Baskette's skewed, episodic storytelling portrays her nervous fragility, lending 'Fancy Blue' a sense of troubled poignancy. Producer and musician Clay Jones retains Baskette's offbeat timing and irregular phrasing, using minimal, breathing arrangements, while never overemphasizing for effect. It's a fine line between naivety and parody, and Baskette and Clay tread that line beautifully. 'Fancy Blue' is an extremely ambitious work, and it's not an easy album to confront in one single sitting. The album's nineteen disparate songs are tied together by Baskette's whispered, child-like croak and her charismatic presence, but they also display her broad musical scope and overwhelming capacities as a songwriter and performer.

Stein Haukland
CWAS #13 - Autumn 2003