Feels Like Home
There’s a moment on “What’s Inside Your Mind?” the opening track of Feels Like Home, when the heavily reverbed piano that slowly rises up from silence gets cut off mid-note and is immediately replaced with John Fahey-style fingerpicking and Jessica Bailiff’s smooth voice coupled with an abrasive choir of background vocals. It’s such a jarring shift from one fluid melody to the other that the disorientation it creates is completely unexpected. Despite being regarded as a singer/songwriter where her solo material is concerned, this track and the subsequent material that makes up the album, reveal Bailiff to be equal parts sound artist and mood setter. There is a distinct lack of linearity to the disc, with some songs entering fleetingly and musing serenely over foggy beds of guitars and keys. In “Persuasion,” she asks simply, “Will he take her hand tonight?” while Russian lyric track “Cinq” and “Spiral Dream” evoke the same blissful sleepy feeling My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive eked out in the 1990s but with nary an overly distorted guitar in sight. When Bailiff pulls the focus tighter, as on “Evidence” and the gorgeous “Pressing” and “With You,” the vocal and guitar melodies nurture each other and build up a concrete strength that the ebb and flow of her more limpid arrangements lack. Only once does she give into the siren’s call of the maw of pink guitar noise. “If We Could” oscillates around a guitar completely saturated in effects, where Bailiff’s voice can lilt, uncatchable, above. It’s nice to hear her pay homage to her roots but even more pleasing to listen to her take heavenly music in new, terrestrial directions.
Kranky Records: www.kranky.net