Mariee Sioux

Gift for the End

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On first blush, the shorthand for most listeners will be to connect the sound of Mariee Sioux with that of fellow neo-folk songstress Joanna Newsom. They both come from the same part of the world -- Nevada City, California. Each writes songs that ties together the magickal and natural world with the trials of human experience. And both have singing voices that you either buy into immediately or will spend the rest of your life avoiding. Thankfully for Sioux, the young singer/songwriter has an abundance of talent to back up the comparisons. For one, she spends the entirety of this album showcasing her incredible fingerpicking talent, with a guitar tone that evokes the spirit of British folk greats like Bert Jansch and Nick Drake. Like those artists, Sioux's work has a spacious quality to it, with lots of open air blowing through delicate arrangements that have been filled out with light touches of electric guitar, percussion, flute, and synthesizers. It's an album that never feels overstuffed, even at its most wandering. The tracks that bookend the album -- "Homeopathic" and "Tule" -- swell and recede gently over the course of six minutes apiece, but never feel lost. Sioux keeps those songs on path with her fluttering voice and lyrics that compare music to medicine, or rattles off a stream of bucolic imagery that paints vivid, stirring pictures in the mind's eye.

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