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Friday, November 24, 2017 
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Nedelle
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From The Lion's Mouth
Kill Rock Stars
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There's this great moment in an Arab Strap song where Aidan Moffat, ever the nihilist curmudgeon, spits: "You can't get over your dead dog?/ Well, it takes one to know one." It's a fine piece of slander that's made me laugh on many occasions. But the truth goes that the death of a treasured pet is one of the great tragedies a human can go through, the real tragedy being that there is supposed to be no real period of grieving, and that the loss is seen as less dramatic than the loss of the human (even though the selfless love for an animal can be a far more fathomless feeling than, say, mere familial bonds). Given that tied-on grief and grieving are essentially deemed socially unacceptable, it's no surprise that artist-folk have often translated such sentiments into song, recent years giving us the glories of Richard Youngs' "Sapphie," Joanna Newsom's "Sadie," and pretty much all of that first A Silver Mt.Zion album. To that list add Nedelle's "Tell Me a Story," 102 seconds of sweet, sweet sadness that starts her second solo album off in a rush of earnest, unfashionable emotion, her ludicrously pretty voice delivering a sentimental set-piece of quite cutesy images ("That little nose was either on the ground/ Or in the air when the sirens sound") whose songwritten simplicity translates to total profundity, the clarity of such — not hidden behind metaphor, not tricked up in fanciful lyrical language — making it like a well-oiled weepie; Nedelle's ode to the dead dog she can't get over makes me cry with the same never-fail regularity as Almodóvar's infinitely moving moving-picture “All About My Mother” (no, like, really). The songsmith herself is a little bit embarrassed about how open and honest all her songs are; how, when listening back to them in hindsight, everything she sings of seems so truly transparent, she singing of things in such a straightforward fashion. But this singing is Nedelle's charm, both in the lyrical simplicity and in the glorious voice that delivers the words; the tones expelled by her throat are both pure as the cold driven snow and warm as the autumn sun.

On her debut disc, Republic of Two, Nedelle swanned in like some indie chanteuse, the disc taking wing as she belted out her soulful ballads to sultry rhythms left lingering by brushed drums and slow-burning analog organs. She was occasionally aided, in such, by a cobbled-together choir that, curiously, included a way-under-the-radar turn from Anticonvict wordsmith Why?, who joined such a lusty chorus, a chorus gathered together under the unwavering belief that this Nedelle was, and is, something special. After that, she turned up on a set of slightly twee major-chord pop-songs, Summerland, authored in league with the Moore Brothers' Thom Moore — under the handle Nedelle and Thom — that, if a big step down from the glories of her own-name gear, at least provided a nice distraction in the wait between first and second records. And, o!, the wait is over, and this second time around, Nedelle has cast an arrow through my quivering heart, rending its ventricles apart right from the start, starting out with that opening song. As well as its sweet, sweet sadness and sentimental sentiments, "Tell Me a Story" introduces the album's approach to arrangement, draping Nedelle, as songsmith — singing so surely, her multitrack'd voice matched to a nylon-string acoustic (the disc blessed with many moments where you hear fingers audibly sliding about strings) — in dabs of orchestration. The appearance of organ or percussion, instruments dished out liberally last time out, is, this time, a much more rare occurrence, limited to a couple occasions where Nedelle serves up a pure pop-song with unchecked exuberance (from the strummy, summery swoon of "Good Grief" to the exclamatory bomp! of "Oh No!"). More often, From the Lion's Mouth finds the softest swipes of strings or horn buttering up her honeysuckle singing. The disc draws to a conclusion closing the curtains on Nedelle, on "Follow Me," stepping softly through hushed clarinets and forlorn piano-chords with the gentle dexterity of a ballerina on pointe. Calling such a set of songs a "virtuoso performance" would impart all the wrong musical qualities upon this record — which is, if anything, a star-turn glittering with utter humility — but the album is most deserving of a rapturous reception, me wanting to be the one in the crowd throwing the bouquets of flowery praise at this performer's feet.


by Anthony Carew




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