Bambi Lee Savage

Darkness Overshadowed

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On Bambi Lee Savage's third solo album, she continues to show that the moody, Lee Hazlewood in Europe kick that she locked into with her move to Berlin in the 1980s remains strong -- and not for nothing does longtime friend and collaborator Mick Harvey act as producer. "Nearly Gone" is when things first slide into that fully dark and slinky approach, but there's a calm variety throughout; if Savage generally holds toward a central singing style and bass has a key role in all the songs, then there's still plenty to note individually, like the shuddering background percussion that introduces and holds throughout "No Stranger to Sorrow," aside from a couple of well-chosen breaks. "Speed of Life" isn't a David Bowie cover -- though it would make for a fascinating interpretation -- but the bass-heavy rumble and soft vibraphone call up a perfect dark-night/shadowy-bar feeling, right when you know something's about to go down in a film noir sense, or perhaps David Lynchian if all were right. That things have a sharp atmosphere in general throughout the album isn't surprising at all, not when the opening lyrics to "Take Me Down" are "One more drink, one more line, one more hit," a stark bass figure turning into a bleak anchor even when the chorus reaches toward a glazed feeling of relief via action. Not everything's quite so dark -- if "Oh Loneliness" has a title that seems suitable for one of Morrissey's blacker moods, the feeling is more genteel melancholy with a bit of spice, a celebration rather than a wallowing, thanks to both the acoustic guitar in the arrangement and Savage's little extra kick in the singing. Savage nods toward her adopted home with the German-language "Nicht Mehr," sung partially in a controlled whisper, partially in a moody moan while a descending guitar line sets the appropriately ominous mood.

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