Music

Album review | FOLK/BLUES

Dorthia Cottrell, ‘Dorthia Cottrell’

Apart from fans of Windhand, the Virginia-based doom-metal band she anchors as singer and lyricist, Dorthia Cottrell is an unknown pleasure. Criminally so, but her new debut solo album will change that. “Dorthia Cottrell” is a work of savage beauty, a collection of folk-blues songs as lustrous as they are foreboding. Shadows lurk in Cottrell’s voice, a smoky, sage alto that most certainly belongs to a woman who has “whiskey in my water,” as she sings on “Oak Grove.” In that song, she confesses — or maybe it’s a boast — “I’m the kind of girl who needs a devil in a man / To satisfy me.” With little more than acoustic guitar and multi-tracked harmonies, and pedal steel conjuring some haze, the album has the unhurried intimacy of old Folkways recordings, or even Cat Power’s “The Covers Record.” She strips her cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “Rake” down to a skeletal dirge, giving a similar treatment to her forlorn version of Gram Parsons’s “A Song for You.” An artist of Cottrell’s caliber was bound to step into the light, even as darkness surrounds her. (Out Tuesday)


JAMES REED

ESSENTIAL “Oak Grove”

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