Kim Lenz

Slowly Speeding

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On her fifth album, Kim Lenz delivers her most stylistically broad production to date with twangy songs dusted with themes of pain, desire, and the supernatural. Lenz, who first emerged in the '90s with her trademark backing group the Jaguars, is largely known as a queen of traditional rockabilly, a torchbearer of the swaggering, wickedly sexy style of '50s female rock icons like Barbara Pittman, Wanda Jackson, and Janis Martin. With Slowly Speeding, she expands upon this approach, exploring ever more nuanced aspects of the Americana tradition. At the core of the album is the title track, a woozy, slow country waltz with a backwards guitar intro and haunting pedal steel lines. It plays like Patsy Cline filtered through a Twin Peaks fever dream. This kind of backwoods, David Lynch-ian menace pervades much of the album, with Lenz striking a perfect balance between pulpy romanticism and rootsy grit. On "Pine Me," she sets the story of a ghost returning to haunt her killer to a minor-key country shuffle. She sings "Pine me. Pine for me. Bloody, bruised, and moonlit where you twined me." It's a cinematic metaphor for heartbreak that slyly evokes feminist empowerment in the face of toxic male violence. Similarly engaging, "Bogeyman" is a wicked slow-burner in which Lenz croons with throaty desire about her dubious paramour. Other cuts like "Bury Me Deep" and "I'll Find You" find Lenz exploring '60s R&B grooves, while cuts like "Guilty" and "Wild Oak" prove she hasn't lost any of her signature rockabilly snarl.

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