Cheyenne Mize

Among the Grey

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On her third release, singer and songwriter Cheyenne Mize proves an increasingly mercurial talent. Among the Grey was recorded by Kevin Ratterman in a Louisville church. Mize and her band used pretty much everything the space and its grounds had to offer: the basement, sacristy, gym, etc. to make use of its various acoustic and atmospheric possibilities. Songs were generally cut live from the floor, and appended in post-production. While they are often elaborately arranged, there is a very communicative, in-the-moment feel to these proceedings; there's spark and mystery, contact and connection, and the willingness to take chances that has been at the heart of Mize's ever-expanding sonic palette from the beginning. In these songs, her lyrics are intimate, but far from boring diary confessions, they explore relationships, sense awareness, conflict, and societal observations. The emotions range appropriately: yearning, melancholy, acceptance, desire, and anger. Musically, Mize has pushed her margins considerably. This set is drenched in spacy, psychedelic sounds couched in rootsy pop melodies. In the title track one can hear traces of everything from Siouxise and the Banshees' Kaleidoscope period to the Dream Syndicate of Days of Wine and Roses. Immediately following is the desperate, romantic pleading in "Wait for It," where the music and production touch on sources ranging from Rain Parade, Opal, and Mazzy Star to Buffy Sainte Marie's Illuminations. Mize's voice is big when it wants to be; a clear referent in "Heart Hole" is Grace Slick (à la the Jefferson Airplane's Crown of Creation and Volunteers). "Raymaker" uses a trance-like meld of acoustic guitars and Eastern-tinged hand percussion. The use of keyboards in the mournful "Have You Seen" is juxtaposed beautifully against the electric guitars; Mize's layered, chorus-like backing vocals resemble Le Mystere Voix Bulgares. "Give It All" is a slow, plodding, straightahead rocker with an anger that comes right from the singer's belly. Shuffling, minor-key, guitar-driven country rock meets psych pop in the agitated "As It Comes," though it surprises, it has insistent yet gauzy brass coming from the ether and entering the tune's body. Set closer "Wouldn't Go Back" is a broken love song drenched in American gothic with strings, tambourine, piano, snare, and sparse electric guitars offering support to Mize's sorrowful lyric, and she rises to meet them. Among the Grey songs drift quite naturally into and out of one another, creating a dreamy, labyrinthine, beguiling, listening experience.

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