Perhaps the first thing to catch one's attention on Lisa Mednick's second release is the curious title, Semaphore. The picture of the railroad crossing on the cover, however, provides a clue: a semaphore is "any apparatus for signaling." The elliptical lyrics of the title track identify a universal female figure as a signaler, mystically offering directions that spring from divine sources. "Widow of this World" likewise uses the image of a woman to explore the values of being married in both the literal and figurative sense to a man, a city, and a country. If all of this sounds a bit "heavy," fear not. While Mednick writes careful lyrics with strange words like "anchorite," she doesn't consider herself one of those navel-gazing singer/songwriters. Instead, songwriting is just another aspect of building a musical tapestry. Atmospheric guitars mingle with dreamy keyboards on "Falling off a Wheel" and "No More Rain," while bass and percussion offer a balanced underpinning. The mix also varies frequently, keeping these tunes from falling into a tired groove. Accordion adds pizzazz to the Cajun-drenched "Sad Louisiana Waltz," while the cello/piano combo gives "Dancing in My Cell" a classical air. While Mednick's stylized soprano reminds one more of a pop singer like Natalie Merchant than her Austin-based peers, it is just right for delivering sonically charged pieces like "Wrecker" and "Stranger." Musically and lyrically, Semaphore offers a rich mix of carefully layered Americana.
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AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.