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Kapoor crafts timeless folk on 'Willy Robbins'

| Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, 7:20 p.m.

‘The Ballad of Willy Robbins'

Vikesh Kapoor (Mama Bird)

★★★★

Pennsylvania native Vikesh Kapoor is a remarkable young talent following in the footsteps of great American folk singers like Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan. Kapoor's exceptional debut album, “The Ballad of Willy Robbins,” manages the near-impossible task of being timeless and timely at the same time.

Possessing an emotive voice and being equally adept on guitar, dulcimer, piano and harmonica, Kapoor mesmerizes throughout the nine-track release. The opening tandem of “Bottom of the Ladder” and the title track are as good as any two tunes you'll hear this year, and though Kapoor can't maintain that level of awesomeness, there isn't a bad song to be found.

Other standouts include “Carry Me Home,” “I Never Knew What I Saw in You,” “Ode to My Hometown” and “Forever Gone.”

I can't recommend this one highly enough.

‘Caves'

Tristen (Thirty Tigers/Pupsnake)

★★★½

Having made a splash with her “Charlatans at the Gate” debut a couple years ago, Nashville-based indie pop singer/songwriter Tristen is back with “Caves,” a rock-solid followup that shows no sign of the dreaded sophomore slump.

It's a top-heavy gathering of 11 tunes that, while a notch below its predecessor, makes for an enjoyable listen. Opener “No One's Gonna Know” is the clear-cut highlight, with “Easy Out,” “Catalyst” and “Winter Night” also quite nice.

Tristen stumbles some during the middle portion of “Caves” before righting the ship with “Island Dream” and “Startling News.”

‘Knives and Teeth'

American Babies (Royal Potato Family)

★★★½

Rootsy rockers American Babies have flirted with mainstream success for years and are closer than ever to making a name for themselves with third full-length “Knives and Teeth.”

Frontman Tom Hamilton is a compelling presence on the 10-track release and his Philly-based bandmates more than hold up their end. Keepers include “Cold Blooded,” “Old Fashioned,” “Running in Place” and “Fire Sale.”

Good stuff.

‘Mass. Grave'

The Martha's Vineyard Ferries (Kiam)

★★★½

Rough-around-the-edges indie trio the Martha's Vineyard Ferries pull out all the stops for their debut album, “Mass. Grave.”

Chris Brokaw, Bob Weston and Elisha Wiesner have cobbled together a seven-track record that defies categorization and isn't for the faint of heart. “Wrist Full of Holes” launches the proceedings, and the Martha's Vineyard Ferries also score with “Parachute,” “Blonde on Blood” and “Look Up.”

My favorite tune here has an R-rated title that can't appear in a family newspaper, but trust me when I tell you it's terrific. Quite filthy, but terrific nonetheless.

Jeffrey Sisk is an editor for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-664-9161 ext. 1952, or jsisk@tribweb.com.

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