Krista Detor is one of those slow-burning artists, who quietly turns out albums brimming with classy and engaging songs, portraying a view of life that is sometimes wry, and always thoughtful. Listeners fall at her feet following their first encounter, and whole audiences find themselves quickly under Krista’s spell, eating out of the palm of her hand. Soon, she will dominate the world, but for now a growing and adoring army of followers can enjoy her latest efforts, and find much in the way of further ammunition to assist in their evangelisation of the uninitiated.
Chocolate Paper Suites is not without a certain quirkiness, with the fifteen songs gathered into five suites. The themes that bind the suites, or even the very reason for their being, aren’t always immediately obvious but this only adds to the hypnotic enigma that Krista instils within her craft.
“Rich Man’s Life” opens the album with an ominously pounding rhythm section and a tenacious string arrangement that adds further menace. Krista’s vocals bring with them a degree of scorn that makes you wonder whether she’s really cut out for the rich man’s life that her lyrics crave. By the third track, “Recklessness & Rust,” Krista is firmly in her familiar territory, accompanied by just her own piano and a hammered dulcimer, delivering a healthy dose of realism that should feel like a slap around the face, but instead feels like a gentle arm round the shoulder (“everything returns to dust, everything returns to rust, just like the buckle on your shoe, soon be copper coloured too”). Combined with a view of the world that has an undeniably childlike wonder (“waltzing angels whispering secrets to the alabaster”), Krista manages to fashion a sense of candour and comfort, that results in an unavoidable and unreserved surrender of your heart and mind to her bewitching spell.
Krista also has her fair share of jazz-soaked, sultry chanteuse moments, as evidenced here by “Teeter-Totter on a Star;” the way she gently attacks each syllable yet hangs on to notes with a dreamy insouciance, really is the ultimate musical seduction. When she’s not soothing or seducing, Krista can also whip up a manic frenzy, and her frantic cries for cigarettes and black coffee on “Middle of a Breakdown” are indeed an edgy performance. The most poignant moments are generally where Krista’s vocals are to the fore, against a sparse backdrop of piano and guitar, and where she appears to be imparting a plea to a friend or loved one: witness “Deliver Me,” a cautionary “told you so” tale of unrequited love, or the gentle reminder provided by “A Hundred Years More” that time is slipping away whilst hopes and dreams remain much discussed yet ultimately unrealised.
A common factor throughout Krista’s songs is the thoughtful intelligence that belies her lyrics, and this could be no more apparent than on the Darwin Songhouse suite. Composed and performed during a week-long retreat with seven other song-writers in a five-hundred-year-old Shropshire farmhouse, the three songs are soaked in the history of the Darwinian era, the challenging depth that defined Darwin’s work, and a vivid evocation of the characters who occupied parts of Darwin’s life. “Clock Of The World” is worthy of particular attention, contrasting the trivialities of bourgeois society with the inevitable and perpetual cycle of life: birth, marriage and death.
It’s now been two years since I first fell for the veritable charms of this transatlantic siren of song, yet Krista’s songs regularly catch my emotions off-guard; they behold an immediate and affecting impact that demands emotional engagement, and rewards with a perceptive and calming rapport. Chocolate Paper Suites persists beautifully, refining this delicious and distinct recipe.
Tracks from Chocolate Paper Suites
Recklessness and Rust:
[audio:http://www.box.net/shared/static/vsgkx6rvso.mp3|titles=Recklessness and Rust|artists=Krista Detor]
Review by Mike Wilson
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