Former Velocity Girl singer Sarah Shannon picks up her sporadic solo career with her second full-length. A huge improvement over 2002's spotty self-titled effort, City Morning Song is easily Shannon's most appealing record since Velocity Girl's Copacetic nearly a decade and a half before. The richly textured arrangements include strings and Burt Bacharach-style touches like muted trumpets and the major-seventh piano chords on the sweet and creamy ballad closer, "All We Will Be," but for all of the deliberate echoes of great, mature pop records of the past (Tapestry, Dusty in Memphis, Fleetwood Mac), this is no mere retro affair, nor is it loungey kitsch. Shannon is a technically better singer now than she was during VG's ultra-indie early days, and her lyrical concerns are more mature as well; even the one song that sounds like it could have appeared on a Velocity Girl record, the urgent and guitar-driven "Watch Over You," sounds more like the musings of a mother than a girlfriend. City Morning Song is a delightful record with a carefully detailed sound that feels like it took most of the five years since Shannon's last album, but with the crisp poppy immediacy of Velocity Girl's greatest singles. It could well be her best album ever.