For those who like their folk all sultry and bluesy then you should check out Northern Californian native Chelsea Wolfe. Imagine a brighter toned Mazzy Starr who has her roots more deeply entrenched in the experimental lure of Coco Rosie and PJ Harvey. The opening Flatlands on her latest release Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs opens to simple dark gothic acoustic play, the shimmering violins adding an element of brightness which gradually transform it into an beautiful piece that leaves a lasting impression. Influences look to the past on the bluesy ‘The Way We Used To‘ calling to mind the recordings of Alan Lomax on his southern journey, the repeated harmonies reminiscent of those repetitive work songs.
Her work, whilst largely melancholic has some bright psychedelic tones that are reminiscent of the other-worldly vocals of Shanti Curran of Arborea. The whispered vocals on Spinning Centres are given that extra mysterious edge by Ezra Buchla’s viola playing. A fuller sound is offered on the very catchy Appalachia on which Chelsea Wolfe’s lyrics become more prominent and noticeable:
“like black diamonds, ash and light/like the mines and anthracite/split-tongued fellows, venom-survived/violence only against the vile/e’er we bleed into the wild/then laid to rest there, man or child/this shining gutter in the sun/is it worth it in the run”
I Died with You offers a short Coco Rosie territory interlude before the melancholic Boyfriend which could make the perfect female version of Josh T. Pearson. Whilst there is an underlying beauty to some songs others provide a spine tingle of the other kind: Hyper Oz is the creepiest sounding tracks on the album with its haunting repeately strummed autoharp and dark synths which give the lyrics a much darker feel…
My bed is so cold without you in it
Tell me something so I can go to sleep
Whilst many reviews seem to have over-focused on the dark undertones of this album there is an attractive beauty in the form of Flatlands, Appalachia and Spinning Centers, the counterbalance to the darker shades make it attractive in a curious way…worth checking.
Listen to the whole album on Deezer
Unkown Rooms : A Collection of Acoustic Songs is availble from our store here