The accompanying press release for Autumn Shade’s Ezra Moon disc tries to place her in the camp of contemporary experimental folkies like ex-Esper Marissa Nadler and CocoRosie. It’s an odd gamble; the fleeting charm of the weirder elements in the freak folk movement is already looking a little threadbare. The more traditional minimalist folk musings of Shannon Wright and Cat Power are a more apt comparison anyway. There’s very little hubris haunting the tracks that make up this album. More often than not, Autumn Shade’s Jes Lenee doesn’t use more than an acoustic guitar or a somber, foggy piano to guide her listeners through her tales. Sure there’s the occasional ancillary melody that wafts in — like the clarinet on “Red” — but it’s inserted so subtly it could easily pass unnoticed. The closest thing Lenee possesses to her more challenging counterparts is her voice. It’s wounded and melancholy, soporific and sweet, but delivered with the slightly off-kilter vocal flair of Karen Peris from The Innocence Mission mixed with Johanna Newsom. It’s not avant-garde enough to turn away those with uninitiated ears. Chances are those lamenting the lack of output from their favorite female-led alternative acts of the ’90s (The Sundays, Lush, etc.) should find much to be thankful for on here.
Strange Attractors Audio House: www.strange-attractors.com