Sumie

Sumie

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On her self-titled album, Sumie builds on the wispy acoustic pop of her EPs -- but not too much. Her music's beauty lies in its economy, highlighting the purity of her singing and playing in a way that feels timeless and also of a piece with '60s and '70s artists such as Linda Perhacs. Most of Sumie was crafted with just her voice and guitar, which she plays with harp-like picking instead of strumming to make songs such as "Spells You" and "Burden of Ease" even more weightless and intimate. She uses this limited palette to evoke a surprisingly wide range of moods, from "Never Wanted to Be"'s wintry meditations on mortality to the deceptively sunny "Let You Go," where Sumie sings "Your touch is tainted by the dark you hold under your arm." The complexity she creates with her tender, direct melodies and ambiguous lyrics is fascinating and rewards close listening to tracks like the equally dreamy and threatening "Hunting Sky," where she envisions being struck down by a bow made of clouds. Even when Sumie brings more instruments into her songs, she still believes that less is more: a few rippling piano notes evoke the sea on the closing track, "Sailor Friends," while the simmering strings on the gorgeous "Speed Into" have the impact of a full orchestra. Then there are the purely lovely moments like "Midnight Glories" that help make Sumie a quietly compelling, inviting full-length introduction to an artist who can't help but bewitch listeners willing and able to embrace her stillness.

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