Portland native Kalie Shorr, performing in Nashville in January. Quinton Cook photo

Portland singer Kalie Shorr turned out one of the 10 best albums of 2019, at least in the opinion of a critic at The New York Times.

On Thursday, the Times released two lists of the top 10 albums of the year, by music critics Jon Pareles and Jon Caramanica. At No. 7 on Caramanica’s list was “Open Book” by Shorr, a Portland native who has been writing and recording pop and country songs in Nashville for the past few years.

Caramanica wrote that Shorr’s debut “is the sort of gut-wrenching album made by someone who understands how vital and detailed country music can be, and who is faithful to its heritage, including its lineage of resistance. Everyone in Nashville is likely hoping to sandpaper her into something just a little bit less confrontational; fingers crossed that doesn’t happen.”

Shorr, 25, said in an email to the Press Herald that she was still a little stunned by the news. The album, which is her first, came out in September.

“Honestly, I can’t even believe it. I poured my entire heart and soul (even the darkest corners) in this album. … To have that be received by fans and critics alike is all I could have hoped for,” Shorr wrote.


She said she was honored to be on the lists with some of her favorite albums, including “Norman ____ Rockwell” by Lana Del Rey and “Clarity” by Kim Petras.

Shorr grew up in Portland and began writing songs when she was 6 or 7. While a student at Deering High School, she garnered national attention for You Tube videos she made, singing and playing guitar. After high school, she moved to Nashville, taking menial jobs and singing and writing when she could. In 2017, she was named one of the Next Women of Country by the country music cable network CMT. In February 2018, she went on a nationwide tour with country star Sara Evans and has played at The Grand Ole Opry more than a dozen times.

She performed at Aura in Portland in November as part of the Let the Girls Play concert event, a benefit for Girl Scouts of Maine.

“Lullaby” from Kalie Shorr’s debut album, “Open Book”

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