If Songs for a Hurricane, Kris Delmhorst's album from 2003, was deep and thought-provoking, this fifth solo CD (excluding side projects and EPs) released five years later, Shotgun Singer, wraps up that psychological web with sound modifications that go deeper and denser. The artist seems to take liberally from George Martin's efforts on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and transfer those embellishments to the needs of a songwriter/singer in the same way that Emitt Rhodes emulated the first Paul McCartney solo LP, McCartney. The dangling vocal on "Midnight Ringer" squeezes out all emotion possible while the instrumentation goes about its business filling the available spaces in highly entertaining fashion. Keep in mind, all this praise isn't saying that this is "the next Sgt. Pepper's" or anything of the sort, what is obvious is that Delmhorst picks up on great work and uses what came before to interpret her new ideas, forging a sound that is both original and appealing. Picture Joni Mitchell deciding to step into Brian Wilson's treasure chest of sound effects and very consciously -- and cautiously -- blending them like some aural chemist to interact with the words and melodies. "Blue Adeline" is simple yet majestic, the cymbals working as if they offer their own notes, the song following the path set by another K.D. -- k.d. lang -- on her masterpiece, Ingénue, which this artist clearly owes much to. That debt, though, is perhaps on another level, say the dark recesses that the Velvet Underground's Nico explored, yet fashioned to translate well to the arena where Delmhorst chooses to reside. The singer plays 11 instruments in addition to her lovely and dreamy vocals on this highly ambitious project, the minimal guitar on "1,000 Reasons" teasing the listener as the strings bring up the conclusion, each song setting up the next experience. Going "back down "To the Wire" is smart, clever pop, and also appears to be Delmhorst's best opportunity for a Top 40 hit; as a central part of this CD it also serves as the counterpoint to the title track, "Shotgun Singer." "Birds of Belfast" inspires with its church bell atmosphere, a very conscious and finely crafted set of movements that, like so much on this disc, calls the audience back to investigate/excavate these expressive feelings again. Shotgun Singer is a very elaborate presentation that is up there with Jackie DeShannon's underrated but terrific You Know Me and Tracy Bonham's exquisite Down Here CDs, two albums that helped bring in the new millennium. Kris Delmhorst presents a logical sequel to the above referenced collections eight years later and anyone dipping into a song like "Freediver" or any other random track on this disc is bound to be quite surprised at the extraordinary depth inside.
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AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione