Be Mine

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Deep, rich vocals, irregular chimes, a minimal melody of guitar and what could be soft flute -- Powerdove isn't out for simple, straightforward winsomeness at the start of Be Mine, and that couldn't be better. On her debut, Annie Lewandowski, the one person who makes up Powerdove, plays with the trappings of folk plenty of times but always spikes it somehow, whether with the heavy bass cutting across "Sickly City" or the title track (the latter almost sounding like Swans-level bass without any drums) or the percussion-only start of "Resting Place" leading into downbeat bass, a late-night blues at the darkest of midnights. "Impact" is an especially strong example of how Powerdove both appreciates form and explodes it -- as ever, there's a core around Lewandowski's singing, but everything from metallic whines to a distant, unclear rhythm shapes and surrounds it, something decidedly unnatural in the world of folk's perceived organic nature. It's not solely a case of producing unease -- there's a pleasure in the sonic interplay throughout -- but the religious invocations of "Easter Story" almost sound forlorn or worse given the scraggling hum in the distance or the hollow, very occasional percussion. "Sunlight and Moon" feels almost traditional in comparison, slow but not stretched and with only a shivering hint of rattles or something similar in the distance, though nothing quite beats "Cellophane" for surprise given its sudden quick break and her repeated line "Put your arms around me." If Be Mine cannot be seen as the equal of something like Nico's classic early-'70s solo run, it's not too far away in spirit, an embrace of understatement and focus on the one hand complemented by a looming feeling of restrained power on the other. Not a bad place to be with a debut.

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