Album reviews: A Fine Frenzy, Anberlin and Angel Snow

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Album reviews: A Fine Frenzy, Anberlin and Angel Snow

A Fine Frenzy

Pines/Virgin Records

Alison Sudol, a.k.a. A Fine Frenzy, has one of the most heavenly voices in all of alternative folk rock, and she puts it to good use on her third release, Pines. A concept album about a pine tree being given a chance to create a life of its own choosing, Pines takes you on a mesmerizing musical journey. Whether it is the engaging electro pop of “Sailingsong,” the laid-back, ukulele-led “Dream in the Dark,” or the hauntingly ambient piano ballad “Sadseasong,” the album takes you through a variety of emotions, rhythms and speeds, mimicking the ups and downs of an epic trek into the world of the unknown. Sudol’s sometimes breathy, often rich vocals (fans of the band Eisley will notice a passing similarity between the DuPree sisters’ and Sudol’s vocals), and her lyrics are noteworthy because they resonate with emotions the titular pine might have on its journey, or any of us might have on our own grand adventures. The overall result is a spellbinding tale you will want to relive over and over again.

Anberlin

Tital/Universal Republic

Anberlin has evolved over the course of its career, moving from strictly rock ‘n’ roll to being a band that has elements of electronica, new wave and pop in its repertoire. These elements are married together successfully on the new album, Vital. “Orpheum” and “Self-Starter” are two examples of how well this combination can work (minus the sing-songy background vocals on the latter track). But the band still knows how to rock out as proven on the blitzkrieg “Little Tyrants,” and on “Desires,” lead singer Stephen Christian utilizes his trademark shouts in time with the bomb-like delivery of the guitars and drums to great effect. The band’s ever-present focus on how to live a life of faith in a sometimes unbelieving world is highlighted on “Type Three,” and the otherworldly epic finale, “God, Drugs & Sex” features an ethereal guest appearance by Christie DuPree. Fans of New Surrender and Dark is the Way, Light is a Place should dig this one thoroughly.

Angel Snow

Angel Snow/Self-Released

The eponymous full-length release from Angel Snow is the stuff that dreams are made of. Before the opening track “Lie Awake” is even half finished you will know exactly why Alison Krauss has been singing her praises. This collection of Americana, folk and country-tinged tracks has been three years in the making, and it is clearly worth the wait. The exquisite collection is highlighted by Snow’s deep lyrical insight, from the hypnotic, storyteller-like vibe she creates on “You Won’t Cry” to the mid-tempo shuffler “Civil Things,” she has a way of entrancing you with her vocals and the ability to stop you in your tracks with tales of fragile people trying to make sense of the lives they lead. “As You Are” is a funky piece of acoustic Americana and Snow’s performance on “Coals and Water” is languidly spellbinding. Angel Snow’s debut album is nothing short of heavenly.

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