Autumn Shade

Ezra Moon

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Occupying an avant-rock world triangulated between the chilly post-rock modernism of Rachel's, Lisa Germano's emotionally raw vocal style and keening violin, and the childlike wonder of Joanna Newsom, the debut album by Autumn Shade is an intriguing, often engrossing listen. The centerpiece of Autumn Shade is Jes Leneé, a Tulsa-based instrumental prodigy whose piano and acoustic guitar are at the root of the songs. Violin, dulcimer, percussion and other instruments fade in and out of the mix underneath Leneé's instantly attractive vocals, a mixture of high-register wails and a less ethereal low register that strongly recalls Germano's sadder-but-wiser vocal persona. The lyrics are an often abstruse metaphorical salad that rarely press a literal picture onto the listener but remain emotionally effective through Leneé's skillful delivery and the melodic strength of the folk and country-tinged tunes. (The title track in particular is an absolute heartbreaker.) Many albums in what's been dubbed the "new weird folk" scene are so evanescent that they dissolve upon close listening, but Autumn Shade's blend of gothic atmospheres (in the sense of both Flannery O'Connor and 4AD Records) and straightforward tunefulness makes it a far more satisfying album than most.

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