Each year, the Pittsburgh Songwriters Circle, a subsidiary of the folk-music society, Calliope, releases a new compendium of songs by local artists. This year's — actually the 2013 edition, presumably so that you can enjoy it all next year — comes in at a whopping 36 tracks. (They vary widely, too: A very earnest tune called "Happy Birthday Jesus" is followed immediately by one called "Zombie Babies.") Two shows commemorate the release (details below); here are a few highlights of the collection:
Derrick Davila: "Black Letter Y"
Davila's mid-paced, easygoing alt-country song highlights his understated but strong vocals; it's not challenging, but it's also not a cookie-cutter tune. The lyrics are above average.
Brittany Hautz: "Love Me in January"
Simple, not particularly fast-moving, but contemplative and well played. Hautz addresses the idea of postponing romance — or perhaps just of anticipating longing.
Mo Nelson: "Your Dosey Doe"
Nelson's unapologetic country music is a nice variation in the midst of the more adult-contemporary folk material populating much of the anthology, and his band is up to the task on this recording.
Martin Zundel: "Where You Are"
Zundel's vocals waver between charmingly gruff and unsteady, but his songwriting shines here; he takes a common theme and spins it into something smooth and original, recalling the old country-pop that Jimmy Webb made for Glen Campbell.