Although Cécile Schott's music as Colleen is consistently lovely, it has changed subtly, but significantly, with each release. Captain of None, her Thrill Jockey debut, is no exception. As Schott builds on the acoustic instrumentation she began incorporating on The Golden Morning Breaks and the vocals she introduced on The Weighing of the Heart, she delivers some of her boldest, most eclectic music yet. "Soul Alphabet"'s jaunty bassline could have appeared on a '50s pop song, but the intricate melody atop it is far from naive. Meanwhile, the opening track, "Holding Horses," sparkles with a mystery and newfound urgency that trickle down to every song on Captain of None. Though Schott's instrument of choice, the viol de gamba, suggests a rarefied atmosphere, there's a wildness to these songs that makes for a thrilling contrast: "I'm Kin" and "This Hammer Breaks" are invocations summoning nature and inner strength in search of the truth. A feeling of (mostly) splendid isolation permeates Captain of None, whether it's the spacious dub influence on "Salina Stars," where an Augustus Pablo-worthy melodica ripples through wide-open spaces, or the stunning "Eclipse," a meditation that lets whispered vocals drift through echoing percussion. Indeed, Schott's singing feels and sounds even more natural here than it did on The Weighing of the Heart as she layers her harmonies like lapping waves on "Lighthouse" and turns her gaze inward on the title track as she searches for "what's inside me" with brisk determination. It all makes for a breezy yet powerful expression of independence from an artist who is always true to herself.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares