Hilary Woods

Colt

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Colt is the full-length solo debut of Hilary Woods, former bassist of Irish indie rock group JJ72, though that fact won't tip listeners to what awaits. Having joined the band as an 18-year-old in the late '90s, she quit the group in 2003 and temporarily retired from music. Over the following decade, Woods focused on raising her daughter, taking some college courses along the way. Per press surrounding the album, those included film classes that re-engaged her creative side and led to her listening to more music and writing songs again. She re-emerged with two solo EPs (2014's Night and 2016's Heartbox) that introduced a gentler, more nocturnal sound quite distinct from that of her former band. Colt expands on the eerie electronic-acoustic textures of the second EP, resulting in a haunting debut album that's both restrained and cinematic. While its eight tracks center on piano and synths, they also incorporate acoustic instruments, electronic drums, processed vocals, and other effects. It was co-produced and mixed by James Kelly of WIFE. Arpeggiated piano or guitar marks songs such as the mournful, Moonlight Sonata-like "Take Him In," which repeats the words "Don't be afraid" over arpeggiated piano. Rhythmic triplets move to the guitar on "Kith," alongside quietly humming synths and whistling tones that phase in and out of dissonance. Taken together with Woods' harmonized, processed vocals, the song has a science fiction quality, as if an android is replaying a distorted message from a distant planet. While there are moments like the more percussive "Jesus Said" here, she gets a lot of atmosphere from spare, sometimes intangible components throughout. Collectively, the songs play like movements of a single work, making for a consistent set of low-light, David Lynch-ian ambience.

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