Linda Perhacs

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Parallelograms (1970), 6.5/10
The Soul of All Natural Things (2014), 5/10

Linda Perhacs was a Los Angeles -based amateur singer-songwriter who recorded only one album, Parallelograms (Kapp, 1970 - Ace of Discs, 2003 - Sunbeam, 2008). On songs such as Chimacum Rain, Hey Who Really Cares and Parallelograms she come through as a cross between Joni Mitchell and Tim Buckley. Her angelic alto floats feathery, weightless in Chimacum Rain and crafts a fairy-tale atmosphere in Dolphin. The nocturnal meditation (with dreamy sax) of Morning Colors expands that format, as does the surreal psychedelic soundscape Parallelograms. Perhacs' alter ego is the more muscular singer of the gritty blues-rock Paper Mountain Man, of the mangled shuffle Moons And Cattails of the sprightly country-rock Porcelain Baked Cast Iron Wedding; which, all considered, might actually steal the show from the naive hippie. Vastly inferior to the great singer-songwriter masterpieces of that year (Tim Buckley's Lorca, Nico's Desert Shore, Van Morrison's Moondance, Robert Wyatt's End Of An Ear, Kevin Ayers's Shooting At The Moon), this album delivers charming bedroom music for lonely souls.

She returned 44 years after the fact with another collection of humble, whispered, spiritual singalongs, The Soul of All Natural Things (Asthmatic Kitty, 2014). Alas, the music is frequently marred by misguided (or simply anachronistic) arrangements and detours. The new-age languor of The Soul Of All Natural Things would be hard to swallow by itself but then the rhythm picks up and a guitar charges in with a flamenco pattern. River Of God winks at late-night disco-soul shuffles. The syncopated percussion of Daybreak is more suited to cocktail lounge chanteuses than old hippies. The hard-rocking Intensity feels totally out of context. However, the electronic and neoclassical arrangement of When Things Are True Again succeed where all of these failed, crafting an otherworldly atmosphere that would fit well in a horror movie. At the other end of the spectrum lies the same girl of 44 years earlier. She intones Children with the medieval grace of a Donovan, and indulges in childish daydreaming in Freely. More importantly, she achieves an impressive degree of sacrality in the a-cappella Prisms Of Glass (with Julia Holter on backing vocals lending a Renaissance feeling). The gentle, ethereal, lulling mantra of Song Of The Planets, drifting in a sea of keyboard drones, instead is ruined by another odd twist of events: a spoken-word section that not only ruins the magic with some substandard poetry but that even evokes the terrifying vision of a fanatical cult.

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