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Michelle Blades' "Mariana" a beautiful, mysterious acoustic storm

Published: Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 22:02

Michelle Blades


(River Jones Music)

Grade: A-


Some songbirds can't weather the kind of acoustic storm Michelle Blades has stirred up on her third effort Mariana.

There's fragility to Mariana. The devastating "Petite Mort" lives (or dies) up to its name. Snow White's great-great-great descendant could have sung "Walnut City"; the vocals warbling like a nightingale. But, Blades (with the help of Tobie Milford's violin and cellists) finds a way to make her provincial vocal style elegantly aggressive on songs like "La Verite" and "Like Wildflowers."

It's a lovely album, mysterious like a black and white movie with pops of color ("Palais de Papes"). And while Blades' voice is gorgeously garbled (think Fiona Apple or Ximena Sarinana) at times, it's the instrumental swagger on songs like "Waltz For the Sea" that sucked us in. Well, that or the pinnacle of the album's dramatic melancholia "Hasti Kusuma."

Monsoon season might come a little early this year, Phoenix.

– Amanda Ventura, College Times

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