First Appeared in The Music Box, December 2004, Volume 11, #12
Written by John Metzger
Subtlety is Po’ Girl’s stock in trade. Although the music on its sophomore effort Vagabond Lullabies broadens the diversity of the Canadian collective’s sonic palette while adding a certain sense of lushness to its arrangements, it is still the nuances gracing each track that make the set so endearing. Building upon a foundation of folk, jazz, and blues, the trio — which features multi-instrumentalists Trish Klein, Allison Russell, and Diona Davies — shades its compositions with elements of country, bluegrass, rap, gospel, and pop in a manner that transforms its heady brew into something that is paradoxically rustic and contemporary. Poet C.R. Avery delivers his spoken-word musings over the fragile framework of Take the Long Way and Driving, and although the juxtaposition of genres just shouldn’t work, somehow the songs manage to sound as if this textural fusion is exactly what their arrangements needed to succeed. Elsewhere, the ensemble delves into straight-forward, singer-songwriter-oriented fare on Corner Talk; explores the aqueous essence of an easy-going groove on I’ve Got Time; saunters dreamily through Tell Me a Story; and applies its wispy harmonies to the bouncy, bucolic Mercy. Indeed, Po’ Girl may not be the first group to take a kitchen-sink approach to updating an erstwhile regiment of material, but it certainly has become one of the finest at parlaying these overtures into an utterly earthy, organic, and ambient thing of beauty. In short, what started as a side-project for The Be Good Tanyas’ Trish Klein, very well may prove to be her career defining moment in the sun.
Vagabond Lullabies is available from
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box