Thulla

The Spirit of Yesterday

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    6
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The second album from this strange and fascinating Danish singer finds her continuing her equally strange and fascinating exploration of jazz, cabaret, and synth pop sounds by means of a mixed bag of original songs and jazz and pop standards. Like her eponymous debut, Spirit of Yesterday is consistently fun but sometimes a bit befuddling; Thulla's voice still sounds like a conference call between Macy Gray, Betty Boop, and Billie Holiday, and her English lyrics are still charmingly loopy ("Even you're walking steady in a drugstore/You just carry on!"). Her band's dark, organ-driven backing keeps things grounded in a smoky nightclub groove (Dan Hemmer's Hammond B-3 playing is especially noteworthy), and there are some appealingly quirky instrumental touches, such as the musical saw on "Walking Steady in a Drugstore" and the nose flute on "Let the Sunshine Change Your Heart." On a less charming note, the male vocalist who joins Thulla on "How'd You Like to Spoon With Me?" sounds grungy and dissolute, and turns a song that should have been sexy and flirtatious into what sounds like a sidewalk come-on from a dirty old man. The album's most unique and immediately accessible moment comes at the very end in the form of an electro-pop arrangement of "My Way," which features an extended accordion solo with harpsichord obbligato. Recommended overall.

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