Nina Nastasia

Run to Ruin

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For those who came to know each syllable and every note of The Blackened Air, Nina Nastasia's third album will take a little getting used to. Released less than a year after its predecessor, Run to Ruin is a much more skeletal and considerably starker album in comparison -- it's also nearly a quarter of an hour shorter in length. Even though the majority of it was recorded in France during the month of June, its lulling tempo, sparse sound, and tangible atmosphere all leave the effect that it was actually made during an extremely hot and humid August afternoon, somewhere south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Again, Nastasia and her guitar are backed by an assortment of drums, basses, pianos, accordions, violins, cellos, and banjos. Many of the musicians here also played on The Blackened Air; the Dirty Three's Jim White provides the drums instead of Jay Bellerose. While the head count of those involved is great in number, the notes they play are few and crucial. The first four minutes of the "The Body," a quiet but lyrically jarring song, consist only of a nearly silent Nastasia and her delicate guitar. Just after she completes her final line, a violent stirring of strings enters that comes closer to matching the nature of the opening verse's lyrics: "My blood for you, my lover's bruise/My clothes are scattered, my skull is fractured." The empty spaces and brief running time might make the album seem as if it doesn't contain enough substance to absorb. That's not the case. None of these eight songs sound unfinished in the least, and whatever spaces the arrangements leave enable the imagination to play as much of a role as the instrumentation. As for the running time, well, you'll just be more likely to play it from start to finish.

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