Ambitious statements don't always come in elaborate packages, a point neatly proved by Rodman's latest CD. Best known for her work in the sophisticated pop group the Lascivious Biddies, Rodman also steers a big band that includes a few jazz passengers and other renowned players. But for Twin Falls -- an evocative sonic portrait of her home state of Idaho, including a wistful visit to the town of a birth mother she never knew -- Rodman turned to an intimate duo with electric bass guitarist Steve Swallow.

Swallow is an old hand in this kind of setting, having previously preformed with his wife, pianist-composer Carla Bley. He makes for a sensitive, responsive partner -- and although he offers single-note lines rather than strummed chords, his fleet, trebly interplay with Rodman characterizes this session in the spirit of the great piano-guitar duo releases by Bill Evans and Jim Hall.

Rodman consistently demonstrates a knack for crafting melodies as simple and timeless as gospel hymns or folk songs. Initially hesitant, "Sunday Drive" opens the set with a tone of anticipation. "Going Home" shyly alludes to the well-known spiritual of the same name, while "Lullaby of the Grandmothers" combines a Satie-like simplicity with an arch, Russian tint. Swallow, an accomplished composer himself, lends three tunes and cowrited four more, providing a personable travelling companion for Rodman; all told, these 17 lyrical gems make for a rich, involving journey.

-Steve Smith