Trio of singer-songwriters delivers emotional sequels
Laura Carbone — ‘Empty Sea’
THE GOOD: German indie singer/songwriter and ex-Your Youth frontwoman Laura Carbone offers up an emotionally charged sophomore solo album.
THE BAD: No complaints.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Many sounds and styles bubble to the surface on “Sea,” not to mention a fair amount of grit. The record is equal parts post-punk abandon, ’90s noise and Gothic pop. From the tumbling and crashing sway and swagger carrying “Nightride” to the shuffling, melodic grace making up “Tangerine Tree,” Carbone’s music is more than one voice or vibe. The bluesy “Who’s Gonna Save You” is painted with dread. “Lullaby” is eerily soothing. You get the idea. No two moments sound alike, and every setting feels genuine.
“Sea” also leaves you craving more. Carbone delivers a tight nine tracks in 34 minutes flat, all of it focused (even the seemingly reckless bits) and accomplished. In turn, the woman deserves more recognition here in the United States. This might just be the record making that happen.
BUY IT?: Sure.
Marissa Nadler — ‘For My Crimes’
THE GOOD: Boston modern folk singer/songwriter Marissa Nadler offers up a gloomy yet lovely eighth.
THE BAD: Nope.
THE NITTY GRITTY: “Crimes” doesn’t hail from a happy place. ook at the cover art. Those shades of black and gray set the perfect tone for the music held within. Nadler sings of loves lost, past transgressions, and feelings of hopelessness. It’s bleak.
However, in its own way, “Crimes” could be considered cathartic. There’s real beauty in all this anguish; Nadler uses fragile and lilting melodies to carry all the pain. Songs such as “Lover Release Me” and “You’re Only Harmless When You Sleep” make you embrace the darkness. Sparse acoustic guitar accompaniment and just the right amount of echo on Nadler’s vocals only add to the record’s dreamlike quality. Ghostly harmonies and soft, weeping string arrangements enhance matters even further.
It’s no easy task making a down-tempo set NOT wear out its welcome. Nadler achieves just that on “Crimes.” We’ll even take another half dozen records just like it.
BUY IT?: Yes.
Loretta Lynn — ‘Wouldn’t It Be Great’
THE GOOD: Country legend Loretta Lynn is back again … at the age of 86.
THE BAD: Nothing.
THE NITTY GRITTY: When Lynn teamed up with Jack White for the “Van Lear Rose” album, that collection seemed the perfect swan song to a more than 40-year career. Lynn was making music on her own terms while creating something raw and authentic.
Well, that was 14 years ago, and apparently that WASN’T the end. Since then, Lynn started a five-album cycle produced by her daughter, Patsy Lynn Russell, and Johnny Cash’s son, John Carter Cash. “Wouldn’t It Be Great” is the third of those planned five records.
Each album combines Lynn compositions both new and old, the singer backed by a traditional country outfit using not one drop of Nashville gloss. Lynn remains the master of her surroundings, whether belting out a honky-tonk scorcher (“Ruby’s Stool”), tear-stained ballad (“I’m Dying for Someone to Live For”) or swaying bit of blues (“These Ole Blues”). Those songwriting talents and that voice are far from finished.
BUY IT?: Definitely.