Johanna Warren

Numun

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Two years after releasing her solo debut, the atmospheric and gentle Fates, Johanna Warren sharpens her still low-key and haunting sound for the more present-feeling (and tad less folky) indie folk on Numun. Dedicated to the moon and nature's cycles, the album is often about time and moving through moments, with lyrics that are introspective more than about heavenly bodies ("I'm not sure, but it I think I used to be much smarter/Back when I used to walk instead of run"), and, more generally, spiritual ("Myriad are the guiding voices/If you take the road less traveled"). Musically, Warren is known for her use of elements like complex time signatures and nonstandard chord progressions within ethereal, acoustic settings, and that's all in play here, as on the polyrhythmic "True Colors" and in the floating, arpeggiated chord modulations of "The Wheel" (also with additive meters). Her lilting voice and the melancholic demeanor of her songwriting could border on sullen, but besides her relatively complex musicality, what prevents her from becoming drab or sleepy are her wide-ranging melodies and interesting production touches, like the spacy organ-type sounds and fluttering reverb effects both present in the opening track, "Black Moss." Likewise, "Noise" has added laughing voices and shimmery spaceship sounds. A song like "Less Traveled" breaks through the somewhat eerie tone of the record with a lively melody supported by playful flutes and acoustic guitar. Warren has talked in interviews about the healing nature of music, both on the songwriting end and the listening end; some listeners will likely connect on that level with Numun and, amid its airiness, its substance.

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