Snow & Voices

Snow & Voices

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After a pair of capable but minimally distributed solo records under her own name, singer/songwriter Lauri Kranz formed the loose-knit group Snow & Voices to reintroduce her quietly compelling style. Press comparisons to Mazzy Star are rife, but Kranz is a far less ethereal presence than Hope Sandoval; a more accurate vocal comparison would be -- no kidding -- mid-'70s Maria Muldaur. Kranz strikes a similar balance between a throaty purr and an angelic higher register that's best showcased on the lovely piano-and-strings ballad "Goodnight New York" and the minimal, droning electronics of "Ordinary Girl," both of which have the chilly elegance of '80s dream pop supergroup This Mortal Coil. Because there's not a set lineup to the group (key members include Aimee Mann sidemen Buddy Judge and Jebin Bruni, who between them play about two-thirds of the instruments, and drummer Ric Menck, who also owns the Bird Song label), the ten songs on Snow & Voices range from Sheryl Crow-style AAA pop ("No Regrets") to a weirdly impressive deconstruction of Fleetwood Mac's "Go Your Own Way," slowed down to a funereal crawl and set to a drifting soundscape of Judge's keyboards and electric guitar. (The This Mortal Coil comparison, specifically the version of Tim Buckley's "Song to the Siren" by Cocteau Twins' Elizabeth Fraser and Robin Guthrie, is strongest on this track, verging on blatant idea theft.) Though it occasionally sounds like two albums shuffling through the same iPod, Snow & Voices has enough good material on both sides of its musical personality that it's worth recommending.

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