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Saturday, July 26, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 77.0° F  Overcast
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Martha Berner
Ten Tiny Little Pieces EP (Machine Records)


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Wisconsin expat Berner's indie folk-pop benefits from full, well-thought-out arrangements that at times have a George Martin feel. The singer-songwriter is a multi-instrumentalist, and her facility on harmonica and cornet (along with the usual acoustic guitar) helps her stand out from the thousands of deep-feeling six-string strummers and keyboard pounders out there who are angling for Tori Amos and Beth Orton's fan base.

This is a brief EP, but it gives a fair sampling of how Berner uses her burnished contralto to shade a lyric with hope, resignation and sadness. A smart, melancholy cover of the Velvet Underground's 'Sunday Morning' is pop minimalism at its best. Berner's self-penned 'Wait for Me' ' a winning mix of yearning vocals, Zaid Maxwell's punchy electric keyboard and that aforementioned cornet ' is also an impressive piece of songcraft.

Berner has already garnered a trickle of attention from the Web- and print-based music press, but Ten Tiny Little Pieces could open the floodgates.

Martha Berner plays a CD-release show at Cafà Montmartre on Wednesday, Jan. 24, at 9 p.m.

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