Singer-songwriter Kate Mann grew up in the Southwest, and on her third effort, Things Look Different When the Sun Goes Down, that barren landscape echoes through tales of forfeited love, hindered hopes, deception and bad luck. Mann’s alt-country, folk and blues is comparable to likeminded artists such as John Prine, Townes Van Zandt and Lucinda Williams.
Like those writers, Mann has an eye for details and characters. On wry blues rumination “Robert Johnson Knew,” Mann wonders about her musical prospects: “I haven’t sold my soul to the devil yet/But I think that I just might/Does forever mean forever, or just until I get tired?” During country-hued and downhearted “In a Movie,” Mann reflects how real life differs from cinema, “If we were in a movie/The bitter would taste weaker than the sweet.”
Mann’s sober Americana may be too dispirited for some, but her resonant voice, dusty acoustics and storytelling makes this undertaking well worth investigating.
Grade: B

Things Look Different When the Sun Goes Down is currently available.