Mare Winningham

Refuge Rock Sublime

If the name Mare Winningham seems familiar, there’s good reason for it: She’s an Emmy-winning actress who’s appeared in 50-some films, including an Oscar-nominated turn as a singing star in Georgia. What many people don’t know is she’s a singer-songwriter in her own right—and even fewer know she has embraced Judaism. That afterlife-altering change is the basis of Refuge Rock Sublime, which is neither rock nor sublime (the title track is a poem she put to music). Her voice is as pure and beautiful as always, but fans expecting the lyrical grace and dulcimer tones of the magnificent Lonesomers will be sorely disappointed. Here, she’s as subtle as an evangelist preaching to the converted, no doubt because she’s both. “I will be a Jew like all of you and dance a convert’s jig,” she sings on—all together now—“A Convert’s Jig” … and if you think that’s overt, try “What Would David Do.” (I can tell you what he wouldn’t do: Convert Hebrew standards into Americana.) By the end, after her languid “Hatikvah,” only the faithful will stay true to this artistic incarnation. Let’s pray for a musical revival for born-again Mare.