4 out of 5 stars
Many music fans were first introduced to singer/songwriter Lera Lynn through her haunting, wonderfully subtle yet sweltering version of Bruce Springsteen’s “Fire,” released on an EP earlier this year. Her 2011 debut introduced us to Lynn’s auburn and honey vocals but seemed to be searching for a consistent theme or direction. She’s found it on this sophomore album.
Even though most listeners will be attracted to Lynn’s crushed velvet voice – a combination of the Cowboy Junkies’ Margo Timmons and the female equivalent of Chris Isaak – these 11 songs find a melancholy atmospheric mood and ride it for 42 magnetic minutes. Instrumentation is stripped down to just skeletal drums, upright bass and occasional extra guitar which leaves plenty of room in the mix for Lynn to work her vocal magic. Lyrically the songs latch onto the subdued audio vibe with simmering wordplay about lost, unrequited and missing love.
The predominantly ballad, mid tempo set gets shaken up on the somewhat more pop oriented “La Di Da,” which even with its simplistic sing-along chorus evokes a similarly spooky atmosphere as the rest of the disc. Credit also goes to producer/pianist/multi-instrumentalist Joshua Grange for capturing Lynn’s lyrical and vocal ambiance and creating a perfect foundation for her mellifluous yet dark tinged tunes to flourish. Her yearning words are reflected in detailed descriptions in songs such as “Letters” where she sings “thought I smelled your Marlboro burning as I rinsed my hair this morning” that are cinematic in their noir stylings.
The result is a set that allows Lynn’s stunning talents to be fully appreciated and a logical continuation for those who first discovered her through a moving Springsteen cover that is indicative of her longing, deeply emotional approach.