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Mary Lorson | Saint Low | Tricks for Dawn | review | alternative | rock | Lollipop

Mary Lorson & Saint Low

Tricks for Dawn (Cooking Vinyl/SpinArt)
by Jamie Kiffel

If Ben Folds, in a moment of sweet, moody lovesickness, were suddenly possessed by the voice of Suzanne Vega, he might become the nymph-jazz-voiced Mary Lorson. Singing high and thin over a velvety rich bed of blue-purple pianos, Lorson is like a delicate bird whistling mystifying melodies with familiar phrases that make little sense. This album is full of the unexpected: Melodic turns so complicated they must have been conceived mathematically or visually; other tunes so comfortable they seem stolen right from our memory files; noises that simply stand back and witness the musical show, like music boxes, scratching metal bits, and rainstorms. Lorson's voice is so delicate that it almost seems caged, but this makes it so much more shocking when she addresses the listener directly, as in "Friends, I have been Drinking." She has the sort of voice that could threaten nuclear annihilation and be met with smiles and hugs. Even an insult from those golden vocal chords could pass through customs as praise. Some tracks are purely self-indulgent, prattling on like meaningless conversation with a pretty lilt, while others are soulfully uplifting even if there's no telling what they actually mean. Saint Low is called an "art-rock project" in Lorson's press release, and listening to it is, indeed, like viewing art. It offers multiple levels to absorb, no finite definition and shocks as well as delights the observer. But, like visual art, you can't sing along with it.

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