Mary Lorson & Saint Low

Mary Lorson & Saint Low

Tricks For Dawn

spinART / Cooking Vinyl

What began as a side project for former Madder Rose frontwoman Mary Lorson has since become a full-time affair. Now, on the strength of one previous album, she has divorced herself from the rest of Saint Low. The change, however, is in name only. These eleven smooth, smoky, jazz- and orchestral-infused tunes elaborate on the style established by the band’s superb self-titled debut.

It’s hard to find the right words to praise an album like Tricks For Dawn. While there is a more straightforward pop approach on their sophomore effort, Lorson and her band are unafraid to meander through chord and tempo changes, creating a sprawling soundscape that is in many ways similar to some of Built To Spill’s output, for example, though on a far more subdued level. Violin, harp, cello, Rhodes, banjo and upright bass flesh out most of these intricate compositions ñ different in a sense from songs — though the whole seems to lack some of the vivid musical color that previous Saint Low and Madder Rose releases captured so well. Instead, open-ended tunes such as “Your Lament” and the closing title track opt to explore different shades of sepia and grey.

“Accelerate” will strike return listeners as familiar, as it’s the slightly more pop-tinged arthouse rock that Lorson has crafted in the past with the help of her hired guns. The noticeable differences appear in songs like “Friends I Have Been Drinking,” a simple, swaying barroom melody tinged with elegance and resignation, followed by the similar-sounding “Oh Regret.”

Tricks For Dawn doesn’t strike me as the same sort of serendipitous treasure that Saint Low was, but it passes the critical gauntlet with exceedingly high marks. This is a rich and exacting album. And it is vibrant proof that Lorson and her partner Billy Cote are far more than minor indie musicians, but rather artistic talents of a kind rarely found in operation today.

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