Cynthia Dall / Cheryl Catherine Smith

Untitled

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Though the album cover bears no name or title, this collection of songs is actually the work of Cynthia Dall, best known for her collaboration with labelmate Smog. Smog's Bill Callahan appears on Untitled, contributing guitar and vocals; however, aside from similarly stripped-down production values, that's the only similarity between Smog's music and Dall's solo work. If possible, Untitled is even more implosive and desolately beautiful than her work with Smog on songs like "Christmas (California)" and "Lion Becomes Dragon." She's able to turn a question like "What are you getting me for Christmas?" into a frosty, thinly veiled threat. The echoing pianos that make up Untitled's musical motif sound as if Dall were in a very faraway place that's both nightmarish and dreamy. That's not to say that Untitled is a completely bleak album; on tracks such as the Callahan/Dall duet "Holland" and the wistful ballad "Bright Night," the album achieves a remote, luminous beauty, and on "Aaron Matthew," it grows downright warm and genuine. Brittle, disturbing, and magnetic, Untitled shows that Dall has plenty to say on her own terms. A frighteningly lovely album.

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