Sarah Bethe Nelson

Oh, Evolution

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The sophomore long-player from Sarah Bethe Nelson, Oh, Evolution picks up where her beguiling debut, Fast Moving Clouds, left off. It shares that album's warm, midtempo, Saturday afternoon feel, with diffused vocals and just enough guitar distortion to give the sound a dose of attitude. Nelson's vocal delivery and lyrics do that, too, the latter perhaps flavored by the Bay Area resident's job as a bartender in San Francisco's Mission District. Songs dwell in turn on affection, heartache, and fizzling romance. The album opens with the flirty "Hazy" ("I want to tell you uh-huh/I want to tell you oh no"). Its soft shimmer, melodic guitar, and self-provided backing vocals channel seaside reflections with a girl group flair. Later, the honky tonk-infused "Bright Thing" hangs out at the bar to confront a significant other, while "I Don't Care" manages to evoke Rupert Holmes through its deadpan dismissals. Oh, Evolution closes with the downhearted "Deadbolt," not the only song on the album to be shaded by introspection and melancholy, providing some emotional range across a consistent effects palette. Taken all together, the record's hazy harmonies and sauntering pace provide a cozy sanctuary for daydreams that may not lead to happy outcomes but feel good while they last.

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