The creative partnership of Emily Saliers and Amy Ray - collectively known as Indigo Girls - continues to scale new peaks. The group first broke on the scene in the late '80s and has endured a variety of twists and turns, including a period when they became so cerebral they lost their essential simplicity. But that simplicity has returned in recent years and helps make this new album a deeply touching, heart-to-heart effort. Positive messages abound, from Saliers's folk-rockingly erotic ``Free in You'' (with the verse ``First the laugh, then the kiss and I'm free in you ... I truly believe that you see the best of me'') to Ray's mandolin-and-accordion-etched rocker ``Dairy Queen,'' about love that only grows deeper. The songs reach into fresh sonic terrain at times - the ska-spiced ``Heartache for Everyone'' sounds like a reborn English Beat track, while the addition of vocalist Joan Osborne on three tracks gives an R&B street edge to the acoustic guitars. The melodies are as mellifluous and cohesive as any Indigos record since their early days, with Ray and Saliers at their angelic, yet worldly, best. And the lyrics really make this a pinnacle album, from the poignant ``Cordova'' (with Ray describing ``the touch of each hand we lose day by day'') to Saliers's climactic closer, ``Rise Up,'' about how life ``gets better even when it's been a drag.'' She joyously invites listeners to ``move your body to the band'' and that advice is worth heeding.
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