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From The Lion's Mouth

From The Lion's Mouth
(Kill Rock Stars)

I'll be the first to admit that I don't think of soft female vocal harmonies and bossa-nova influences chord structures when the label name of Kill Rock Stars is thrown out, but that's a good portion of what you get with From The Lions Mouth, the second full-length release from singer Nedelle. Raised by a classical piano player and a jazz drummer, her music pulls little bits of those influences into an indie-rock singer/songwriter structure and the result is a lovely little album that works so well in a cynical world.

With twelve tracks that run just over a half-hour in length, the album isn't exactly an epic one, but the short tracks on the release are just the right amount of restrained and rough. "Tell Me A Story" is a perfect example of some of the best work on the release, with a simple acoustic guitar melody (complete with several note flubs) playing out over subtle strings while Nedelle soars vocally with melodies that are touching and lyrics that seem to pull just the right bits out of everyday life. "Blundering Blood" takes some of the same musical elements and adds another layer of vocals for a harmony that again works quite well with the playful lyrics.

Interestingly enough, the album actually seems to lose some of its more interesting qualities as more instrumentation is added. "Good Grief" adds simple percussion and some keyboard, but the track jaunts into much more standard-sounding territory while "Just In Time" bounces into poppy territory with organ and drum backing. On the other side of things, the stunning "Oh No" again takes things back to just strings, acoustic guitar and vocals. Like the other more stripped-down tracks, the vocal melodies on the track stand out as much more inventive and strong, at times even reminding me a bit of Joanna Newsom. Musically, while the albums aren't much alike, fans of the more subdued output by Newsom may find things to enjoy here, as well as those who like slightly more polished work by the likes of artists such as Keren Ann. Kill Rock Stars apparently isn't just about the rock anymore, and from the sounds of this release, that's just fine.

Rating: 7