East Virginia and Other Folk Tales

East Virginia and Other Folk Tales

Taking her stage name from a Nick Drake song, Hazey Jane is Los Angeles singer/songwriter Karen Landeau. Her 2013 album East Virginia and Other Folk Tales is a timeless-sounding collection of bucolic folk songs, starting with the hauntingly beautiful “Little Rag Doll.” Here Landeau inflects with a reedy trill in her voice, somewhat like a young Emmylou Harris. While her preceding album, Holy Ghost, was fleshed out with a full band, including pedal steel and electric piano, this recording is stripped down to the threadbare acoustic essentials. As a result, her knack for storytelling rises to the top of these songs. Over two softly picked acoustic guitar lines, “Railroad Boy” tells a tragic tale of forbidden love between a farm girl and her young suitor, a railroad worker. The spatial title track builds on ethereal drones played so delicately that you can hear the textured sounds of calloused fingertips moving up and down open-tuned strings. Her partner, Michael Landeau, picks out dexterous leads, matching an appropriately Nick Drake–inspired melancholy with a Takoma School guitar style that has more in common with John Fahey.

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