I bought my Dad Diane Birch’s debut CD “Bible Belt” for Christmas, which was why I haven’t written about it here sooner. I didn’t want him reading about it and going out and buying it.

I have to say, though – this CD tops my list for most incredible and surprising music of 2009. Birch’s voice is reminiscent of the 1970s songstresses I grew up listening to – she’s like a cross between Carole King and Janis Joplin – and her melodies call up images of Carole King as well, and of Burt Bacharach at his best.

Not only that, but she has the maturity and melodic awareness to realize that using horns throughout her music is a smart choice. It adds depth and layers and brightness to the songs, making some of them remind me of Chicago in their heydey, or of Blood Sweat and Tears.

Being a debut effort from a very young artist, it’s not surprising that the CD is a little uneven, with high points of brilliance (Nothing But a Miracle, Fools, Photograph) and low points of fairly pedestrian offerings (Valentino). However, those flashes of brilliance¬† cause me to predict that in 30, 40, and even 50 years – Diane Birch will transcend her peers – she won’t be a has-been, she’ll be a legend.