Retsin's eight-song debut disc on Simple Machines Records, Salt Lick, introduced the indie rock world to the dramatic pairing of Cynthia Lynn Nelson and Tara Jane O'Neil. The atmospheric opening track, "Hybrid Ice Princess," is followed by the straightforward and colorful "Mary B." On "Pulp," the duo favors a stripped-down lo-fi sound, intricately offering up minimalist guitar and soft-spoken lyrics. An earnest and sophisticated sound emerges as the disc nears its end. The songs are often melancholy and always focused. On "Country Style Spoonin'," O'Neil's sincere-yet-detached vocals are featured over hypnotic and droney musical arrangements. "Pink River" closes the disc. It's the first song the duo ever penned together, and the intensity of the song's lyrical content heightens the music's urgency. The song was written in a cemetery soon after the pair first met. Not surprisingly, the styles of Nelson and O'Neil's other bands (including Rodan, Sonora Pine, and Ruby Falls) are noticeable throughout. The songs on Salt Lick were recorded in late 1994 in Louisville, KY, and in New York City at Nelson's home studio. The duo originally recorded 80 tracks during those sessions. Settling on eight of the best songs, the tracks were mixed by Geoff Turner at WGNS Studios in Washington, D.C., in early 1995. Guest musicians on Salt Lick include Jennifer Sharpe, Steve Thornton, Greta Richter, Josh Madell, and Geoff Turner.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Cramer