CHRISTINE KANE

"Rain and Mud and

Wild and Green"

Big Fat Music

Singer-songwriter Christine Kane reveals her roots in more ways than one on "Rain and Mud and Wild and Green." Beginning with "The Way Clouds Do," she lets you into her world, or at least what was once her world, in a soft voice that occasionally brings to mind Shawn Colvin: "Born in Fairfax, Virginia / Me and the girls we grew up / In homes they built on battlefields / Ponytails and panic / We were bad, bored and bulimic / We longed for something real."

Kane is still longing, though mercifully she's not the kind of guitar-toting tunesmith who piles one self-absorbed musing on top of another. Reflective, ironic and often open-ended, her best songs take the shape of curious scenarios that leave you guessing about the nature of things. "One Once More," for instance, involves a woman ("opened easy, and rarely in me something unexpressed") trying to make sense of her relationship with a man who is as "silent as your breath." Another example of Kane's impressive song craft is "Or Just Heading Home," a ballad that jump-cuts between the present, a series of random encounters at an airport and rueful allusions to the past: "I fell in love once / With a boy from Wichita / And he left me in Africa / Yeah, it's quite a story."

In addition to the pensive ballads, the album boasts "Everything Green," an exuberant eco-anthem that briefly suggests the influence of Joni Mitchell, and "(No Such Thing as) Girls Like That," an amusing rant largely inspired by MTV's obsession with women in thongs.

-- Mike Joyce

Appearing Friday at Jammin' Java. * To hear a free Sound Bite from Christine Kane, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and press 8106. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)

Christine Kane ranges from pensive ballads to amusing rants on her latest release.