British singer-songwriter Cate LeBon sang
gentle post-Donovan psychedelic folk elegies
filtered through Nico's existential angst
on Me Oh My (2009).
Her vocal range is limited but her stylistic range is not to be underestimated:
the songs can be conversational and timidly jangling like Sad Sad Feet
as well as psychological and quasi-jazz like Terror Of The Man;
equally engaging in the melancholy mode (Digging Song) as well in the
ecstatic mode (Out To Sea).
The structure and accompaniment varies too, pitting the
country-ish Shoeing The Bones (reminiscent of both the Eagles and early Neil Young)
against a catchy Eyes So Bright that borders on power-pop,
while at the same time fusing
ancestral folk and electric rock in Burn Until The End.
Synth and drums bestow an almost parodistic marching pomp on
the slow-motion folk hymn of Me Oh My.
Cyrk (Control Group, 2012) is more lively work that occupies the same
intimate niche but reaches out more openly to rock and pop music.
(Puts Me to Work, Falcon Eyed) and a bit more
adventurous (Cyrk, Ploughing Out, Fold the Cloth).
The bouncy and catchy Falcon Eyed steals the rhythmic idea from
garage-rock of the 1960s.
By the standards of the first album's naive simplicity, the piano-driven
Puts Me To Work is a soaring anthem.
The poppy Cyrk might be too facile, despite the loud guitar solo in
the middle (and that loud guitar is a mixed blessing in itself - witness how
it buries the entire second half of Fold The Cloth), but
more complex instrumental counterpoint highlights the portraits of
Julia and Greta (the latter all subdued and abstract until
the circus-like trumpet fanfare at the end).
The slow, solemn, hypnotic Man I Wanted and the oneiric Through The Mill revisit the simpler qualities that made the first album so precious.
The dissonant, pounding, almost psychedelic Ploughing Out, Pt. 2 marks
quite a departure from that sound, for better and for worse.
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