“And I don’t play the game with liars and cowards...like you,” sings Slean on her first single from The Baroness, called “Get Home”---a gorgeous expression of resignation in an album spiked with heartsickness. Slean’s played the part of “the other woman” before, in songs like “California” from her 2004 release Day One, but these days the innocence is absent. The new release is stripped of those signature flourishes; the cute little voices that punctuated Day One’s “Lucky Me”---“Declined!” they trilled---are gone as Slean dials down the theatricality, singing from a more personal place rather than taking on a character. It’s evident in dark missives like “Shadowland,” where she hears “the empty call of hatred, anorexia, misery and alcohol” and in the solemn “Looking for Someone,” which reveals a secret yearning for nuptial bliss yet unrealized. Elsewhere optimism abounds, as Slean declares herself a free agent, relishing her carnal and casual liaisons on “Euphoria” (a cabaret tune ripe for a remix) and practically shudders with tear-streaked relief in the epic “Goodnight Trouble” and the road-savvy “So Many Miles.” In its maturity, The Baroness is a big step forward for the singer, her songs cutting through regret, love and lustiness like a scythe, spilling bloody truth. Bracing, romantic and not at all for the insincere.