The familiar becomes something strange and magical on Amanda Shires’ Carrying Lightning. Though this Lubbock, Texas-born singer/songwriter might be termed alt-country in approach, her dreamy, closely observed lyrics and fluent fiddle-playing elevate her above typical artists in this genre. Shires possesses a husky voice tinged with a pronounced vibrato; her singing suggests wistful emotion and childlike wonder. Sweetly poignant tunes like “Ghost Bird” and “Lovesick I Remain” are balanced by more angst-filled expressions like “Shake the Walls” or “When You Need a Train It Never Comes.” There are moments here (particularly “Bees In the Shed”) that bring to mind the scruffy quirkiness of Tom Waits. Carrying Lightning manages to maintain an affectionate tone without becoming precious or cloying — tasty musical touches (like the small string ensemble on “Kudzu”) help keep things both warm and interesting. Call her a Lone Star eccentric or a poet with a mean bow arm, Shires proves herself a compelling talent on this visionary song collection.