Pina

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Something of a neo-Stevie Nicks with slightly more rasp and a crisp, folky sensibility blended with edgy rock, Pina is the kind of hard-to-categorize artist who labels like Real World were created for. Drawing upon influences from her homeland of Austria and her adopted home of Ireland, she perfectly mixes alternative rock, gothic folk, and even a slight country vibe. She's a bit too earthy to be Enya, but the powers that be have focused on her Irish side; she was first heard on the Afro-Celt Sound System's Grammy-nominated Volume 3: Further in Time. The opening track, "I Loved the Way," would be a straightforward modern rock tune if not for the Irish vocal choir making odd, exotic sounds during the chorus. "On a Day Like Today" is all about dreaming, and those soaring vocal textures rise above the slick electric guitars. "The Flight" shows a gentler, more intimate side, but even that has violin and pennywhistles and crowd clapping in the midst. "Cold Storm," without that ambience but a more propulsive groove and sharp lyrics directed at an ex-lover, has more mainstream pop crossover potential. The production is thankfully sparse for the most part, allowing Pina's unique vocals to carry the day; "Bring Me a Biscuit" features only a strumming guitar and a distant cello to enhance the melancholy mood. Quite a find.

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