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POOKA (Buy CDs by this artist)
Pooka (Elektra) 1993

The malignant Irish sprite that gave Manchester's Natasha Jones and Sharon Lewis their band name also describes the mischievous heart that lurks within the English duo's sweet-voiced acoustic folk. Looking like freckle-faced Druid urchins on the album's back cover portrait, the not-so-innocents threaten to spit on annoying people, dream of "taking your breath," inform a flower of its impending death and offer themselves up to some object of desire as, variously, a little girl, a little man, a woman and a mouse. In the daintily vulgar "Between My Knees," they "want to treat you cruel." Harmonizing beautifully in wan pre-Raphaelite voices, Jones and Lewis surround themselves in arrangements that shift seamlessly from one-guitar blues (the opening "City Sick") to a swelling shroud of piano and strings (the coda of "Bluebell") and suddenly erupt in raucous slide-guitar rock ("Rolling Stone"). Slender, sensuous, seductive, occasionally precious, Pooka opens a window into a looking-glass world of wonder and mystery.

[Ira Robbins]