An intriguing mix of Southern Gothic Americana and avant-garde minimal experimentation.
Howe Gelb has a long pedigree of adventurousness and pushing boundaries within the genre and this album made with the Colorist Orchestra, as well as Pieta Brown, is no exception. Take the stunning cover of ‘Gentle On My Mind’ for example, which takes the melodies and intent of the original and fashions it into a very beautiful thing, reminding this reviewer of similar reinterpretations by Mark Eitzel on his oft-ignored covers album ‘Music for Courage and Confidence’. Gelb’s sonorous tones giving the lyrics a whole new dimension. The duet ‘Sometimes’ that follows is a delicate, beautiful thing, barely instrumented as Gelb and Brown’s voices intertwine and trade phrases.
‘Thyne Eyes’ is an almost oriental ballad couching Gelb’s narrative in deftly plucked notes that give the track a naïve and off kilter quality. The orchestra slowly seeps in with other shades and… ahem… colours developing it into a very arresting piece of almost chamber music. ‘Sweet Pretender’ is a minimalist triumph as Brown’s song is given real heft by the production and the match between the voices on this tale of abandonment and lovelorn hope before exploding into musical oblivion.
And the album continues to deliver tracks of this quality all the way up to the closing title track which seals the deal in fine style with its lilting rhythm from which the heat is almost palpable.
Highly recommended to lovers of moody, atmospheric, literary, Southern Gothic. Beat that!