The title of Inara George’s fourth solo album encapsulates the paradox of the music she makes. It’s breezy and delicate enough to create the illusion of intimacy and inclusion, but the listener is purely incidental. Dearest Everybody alights on the spot “between all this joy and all this sorrow,” as George sings on “Young Adult,” with the mild shock that comes with realizing that you’re comfortably on the cusp of middle age.
The tasteful arrangements—gentle piano, unobtrusive acoustic guitar, meticulously crafted vocal harmonies—prove George is more adept than most at finding the sweet spot in a life well lived. But for those on a less comfortable path, the losses suffered by the characters who populate songs like “Crazy” and “Release Me” are a reminder of all that’s unattainable in the first place. You can pine for the possibilities that lie behind every sweet “ooh-oooh-ooooh” and “ba-bum-ba” and still be alienated by the accumulation of so many unfulfilled promises.