Artists who take an approach as acutely personal and unambiguously confessional as Katie Pruitt does on her debut album often revel in rawness. But the Georgia-bred, Nashville-based singer-songwriter treats refinement as a complement to self-expression. The 10 songs on Expectations—most of which she wrote solo, and all of which she co-produced with fellow first-timer Michael Robinson—employ lyrical precision in the service of emotional lucidity. Pruitt captures a contrast in outlooks—between fearing the rejection that might come with disobeying conventional codes and bending them to make space for living openly. The elegant contours of her melodies draw from familiar folk, rock, and pop forms, and they hold their shapes even as she applies freewheeling dynamics; the acrobatic intimacy of her singing and the reverb-glazed, guitar-driven arrangements amplify her ebbs and flows in feeling.

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