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Samara Lubelski - Wavelength

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Artist: Samara Lubelski

Album: Wavelength

Label: De Stijl

Review date: Oct. 17, 2012

When Samara Lubelski sings, itís as if her voice is only half heard. Her hazy, wispy vocals dissipate almost immediately upon leaving her mouth, wafting away like smoke. The weightlessness of Lubelskiís voice is in stark contrast to the music on Wavelength, her sixth solo release. If Lubelski the singer is ethereal, as a composer and arranger sheís far more anchored to the earth. The dozen tracks that make up Wavelength are pretty straightforward pop songs, with linear trajectories and easygoing hooks. Lubelskiís solo albums have never simply been the psychedelic folk that everyone seems to expect her to make. At this point, itís tough call Wavelength a surprise in that regard, but the folk influence here is less evident than ever before.

Though Lubelskiís best known as a violinist, Wavelength features the instrument sparingly. Itís much more a guitar album, the violin forced to the outer edges of the songs, most often the provider of ornament instead of backbone. The chiming channeling of Sonic Youth on tracks like ďThe Nice PriceĒ isnít exactly out of the blue: Lubelskiís spent time over the past few years playing with Thurston Moore, and Steve Shelley (never hard to spot) reprises his role as Lubelskiís dummer. The late í60s California vibe is a more unexpected presence on the disc, from the jangly guitar of ďJammage CruiserĒ to the laid back shuffle of ďHang of Summer.Ē Across the albumís changing tones and varied instrumentation, Lubelskiís voice is the one constant. Her hushed delivery, more than a whisper, but not by much, changes little whether sheís singing over Moritz Finkbeinerís peaceful pianet on ďRun Out Arcade,Ē the rolling strum and plaintive drone of ďAstral House, the Jokers Scene,Ē or the distorted guitar interplay of the albumís title track.

Itís a testament to Lubelski that Wavelength sounds so effortless. Were the album a debut, itíd probably make bigger waves, but as another Samara Lubelski album, itís probably not going to be viewed as a watershed moment. Even Lubelskiís most direct work isnít very insistent, and the albumís best songs arenít the sort to turn heads. But if youíre at all amenable to what she does, you wonít be disappointed. This soft singing songstress makes music that speaks with a calm confidence, and, save for Lubelskiís voice, Wavelength doesnít often waver.

By Adam Strohm

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