Kathryn Calder

Kathryn Calder

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For her third solo album, New Pornographers vocalist and keyboardist Kathryn Calder once again steps outside the stylistic framework of the band's smart, grand-scale pop into cooler, more contemplative territory. While Kathryn Calder's thoughtful, evocative indie pop occasionally kicks into high gear on songs like "Take a Little Time" and "My Armour," most of the time this music drifts calmly on clouds of synthesizer patches hovering over a spare landscape of massed voices, distant drums, and single-string guitar patterns. Even when Calder does turn up the tempo, the arrangements are still dominated by placid, ethereal keyboard voices that evoke colorful but chilly plains in early fall, and there are moments when Calder's music could pass for some forgotten New Age album of the '80s. But the album is certainly more artful and generally compelling than that would suggest, and if this music is purposefully minimal, it certainly has a personality, mixing and matching bits of synth pop, Krautrock, and minimal pop as Calder's gentle but insistent voice takes the lead. The emotions are elemental here, with most of the songs dealing with love and longing, but her expression is clear and gentle, and this is a set of songs that you can either float with downstream or use as a backdrop as you ponder the human interactions that figure into your own life. In some respects, the album is a bit too pretty and polished for its own good, with the kind of approach that fades into the background at times, but there's no arguing the quality and thoughtfulness that Calder put into this work, and if you like the notion of indie pop as ambient music, then this may be just the album you've been looking for.

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