Shannon Wright

Dyed in the Wool

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As indie rockers go, Shannon Wright is something special. After disbanding Crowsdell and embarking on a solo career, she released two wildly different but extremely high-quality solo recordings, the stark, acoustically haunted Flight Safety and the set of rage-rock excess that was Maps of Tacit. On Dyed in the Wool, Wright changes her direction by freeing herself of the constraints of having to play everything on her own records. She enlists help from mates in bands like Rachel's, the Boxhead Ensemble, the Lofty Pillars, Edith Frost, and the Rock*A*Teens, and the engineering help of Steve Albini and Andy Baker. The tracks range from the haunted chamber pop of "Vessel for a Minor Malady," with its sweeping string and piano choruses and broken lyric, to the screaming rawness of "Less Than a Moment," with its angular melody line and deconstructed rock chorus, to the gothically shambolic title track done in waltz time, which has the protagonists singing with a loss so total it upsets the balance of the world: "There goes your body in a box/But it's all I have left/Now this odor lines my shaking bed/There's no order to you/Come with me you dirty wretch/How does this duty send me relief/When I've been cheated of you." The seam of the track splits, allowing for the singer's contradictions to meet with the downpour of emotion and musical fragmentation like a surprise rainstorm in a desert. The lyrics here reflect Wright's precise yet poetic way of mapping the emotional landscape as it careens from pain and loss to hope and then rage. With a band of musical collaborators to free up her musical vision, Wright has given listeners her finest outing so far -- and that's saying plenty.

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