Masha Qrella

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Masha Qrella last released an album of original material seven years ago. This would seem like a daunting gap to try returning from, but it is not as if the Berlin-based songwriter hasn't been occupied. Qrella released two albums of cover songs in 2009, and from the sounds of the dense pop songs on Analogies, she has spent the ensuing years honing her musical craft. The ten tracks collected here positively sparkle with simple instrumentation (guitar, bass, drums) augmented and shaded in via well-chosen electronic and keyboard elements. With these skeletal backings, Qrella is given much room to stretch her songs into a variety of musical styles. Opening track "Take Me Out," a gentle, nose-tickling indie pop hug, is placed right next to the bluesy gallop of "Hawaii" and the urging pulse that beats underneath "Crooked Dreams." The variations also allow Qrella to show off the subtle coloring and emotion she can achieve with her delicate voice. Often, she goes full bloom, letting her German accent curl around the edges of her words. But occasionally she holds back on songs like "Call My Name" and "Bluebottle," adding a lilting coo or a touch of the breathy jazz diva. They aren't showy effects, but give even more angles to explore, sitting just over the shoulder of her listeners while they turn these songs over and over again in their hands like an ornate piece of china.

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