In early 1996, Cynthia Dall issued one of the great mysterious/lost/under-the-radar exercises in obscurist American indie-rockist melancholia. The partner of Bill Callahan in his early days as Smog y'know, back when he was lo-fidelity-weirdo par excellence Dall bashfully branched out, aided by a cast including Callahan and a young Jim O'Rourke, on a record that, initially, was totally untitled, its catalogue listing really being only "Untitled." Even as it willfully buried itself in shadow and mystery, the record essentially showed Dall for what she was: an aggressive personality making passive music, with the nervous, amateurish songs of an uncredited artist actually being the work of the girl posed in a soft-porn black-and-white on the inside of the sleeve. Featuring the kind of rudimentary ad-hoc scum-and-scuzz that any fan of those early Smog days will be familiar with, the record, through some stroke of accidental artistry, totally transcended its tone; its mix of droned-out mantras and painfully threadbare ballads invariably scaled some monumental height of pseudo-outsider-art grace. Soon after, she and Callahan split, and, over the next five years, Dall made only intermittent public musical appearances. For a short time she presided over a band-based outing called Elements of Voice Culture. Nearly seven years on, it seems that Drag City had to coax Dall back into the studio possibly even back into making music for her second album, Sound Restores Young Men, which pretty much picks up where she left off way back when. The sounds are the same: wan vocals pushed through apprehensive breath, scratchy guitar chords and washes of guitar/keyboard drone, one-finger piano motifs, and cardboard-box-sounding drums. This set revolves around a song called "The Party," in which Dall, over a simple piano motif, seems to sing a barely-veiled song about Callahan; O'Rourke lifts the tune into regal realms with his exquisite tone and a forlorn cornet part, and the tune marches on into contemplative instrumentalism, placed proudly as the album's centerpiece. Quite unexpectedly, the album itself, as a whole, finds Dall again managing to make a record that transcends its own limitations. Initially seeming diffident, distant, and difficult, her songs are the kind that eventually draw the listener in, and get better with each subsequent spin.