First Appeared in The Music Box, April 2008, Volume 15, #4
Written by John Metzger
Mon April 21, 2008, 06:45 PM CDT
Although her songs sound nothing like those of Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, the way in which Kris Delmhorst has turned her cerebral concepts into emotionally palpable excursions makes such comparisons particularly apt. In a striking testament to her talent, Delmhorst built her 2006 outing Strange Conversation around the works of an array of well-known poets. Boldly adapting familiar scripts to suit her own purpose, Delmhorst then set them to music. Rather than feeling stuffy and forced, the endeavor was a surprisingly transfixing album.
On her latest effort Shotgun Singer, Delmhorst largely leaves the academic constructs of her previous work behind, and her shift in direction is immediately apparent in both her lyrics and the soundscapes that surround them. Although the words that she carefully has stitched together continue to ruminate poetically upon love and life, there is a vagueness about them that leaves their interpretation open and fluid. The moods that emanate from her music further obscure the emotional frames of reference from which she sings her songs, and the end result frequently waltzes through the shadowy realm where light and dark meet.
Shotgun Singer is this yearís second major folk outing to be birthed in solitary confinement. The first of these, of course, was Patty Larkinís Watch the Sky. Both of these albums are washed in atmospheric textures that bend and fold around the lyrics, muddling the meaning that lurks behind the feelings that are expressed. With help from fellow songwriters Peter Mulvey, Erin McKeown, and her husband Jeffrey Foucault; producer Sam Kassirer, an associate of Josh Ritter; and Barry Rothmanís eerie record samples, Delmhorst moves from the ethereal wispiness of Blue Adeline to the tribal sensuality of Heavens Hold the Sun, and from the ominous requiem If Not for Love to Riverwideís apocalyptic baptism without ever seeming to skip a beat.
As her work has evolved, Delmhorst has become a favorite among music fans who like to be challenged as well as entertained. Much like Songs for a Hurricane and Strange Conversation, the outings that preceded it, Shotgun Singer will do both. Ĺ
Shotgun Singer is available from Barnes & Noble
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2008 The Music Box