New Releases: fka TWIGS’ latest bewitches, but yet leaves questions

By MIK DAVIS,

If 2018 was the Year of the Woman, 2019 is shaping up to be the Year of the Dramatic Woman. Following spellcasting albums from Weyes Blood (positive,) Angel Olsen (almost a Goth level darkness,) fka TWIGS is the next to construct an album that bewitches as much as it leaves you with questions. Dimly lit piano and minimal instrumentation leave fka TWIGS a world of room for her voice to pirouette around in. On songs like "Cellophane" and "Home With You" the effect is mesmerizing. Like St. Vincent or Angel Olsen, these are songs designed to stop time. "Cellophane" is quite like Angel Olsen's "Lark" in structure and focus; however, she manages to take loss to a whole new place ("I try but I get overwhelmed/When you're gone, I have no one to tell.") When she finally pulls back into the tough hip-hop beats, her fragile, quiet voice on "Holy Terrain" makes a great counterpoint. While fka TWIGS has always been powerful (check "Lights On" from her last album 2014's "LP1") "Magdalene" unveils a whole new level of power in being intimate.

fka TWIGS

Magdalene

(LP/CD)(Young Turks/Beggars)

LUKE COMBS

What You See Is What You Get

(CD)(SME Nashville)

The time between albums in a Country artist's career can be a make or break for most. Combs, with just one album under his belt ("This One's For You"), has smartly piled onto its success, giving him 7 Top 3 singles that all remain in heavy rotation. In addition, his summer online-only release "The Prequel" (all five songs included on CD here) has set this new album up for even more success. As we said about Combs before, his talent lies in the plain way he communicates within his songs. Combs takes the formula from Bro.Country and tweaks it to be more personal and truthful (his breakthrough single "Hurricane.") Wisely, Combs and producer Scott Moffatt do not alter the formula on this latest album. Debut singles "Beer Never Broke My Heart" and the midtempo tearjerker "Even Though I'm Leaving" exceed expectations. Brooks and Dunn even repeat with the punchy "1, 2, Many, " while Eric Church shows up for "Does To Me." Elsewhere, all of his new tracks crackle with that immediate Country Radio feel. The title cut almost makes his songwriting sound a little too easy until he soars on the choruses. Elsewhere, Combs proves himself to be the shining new star of today and eagerly draw comparisons to his heroes Garth Brooks and Vince Gill.

Allen stone

Building Basics

(LP/CD)(ATO)

Now married and starting a family, soul man Stone turns his golden voice to some ‘70s funky soul-meets-modern Hip-Hop infused R&B. Follow his dexterous voice and he can do no wrong. "Sunny Days" focuses on his rumbling rhythmic gait and soaring falsetto all underpinned with his perfectly controlled vibrato. Emulating Donny Hath

KLAUS SCHULTZ

La Vie Elecltronique

(CD)(Made In Germany)

The synthesist Schulze helped to found the legendary Tangerine Dream in the Seventies. While formulating his music for that group, Schulze recorded several lengthy synth compositions that stand the test of time from 1968-1972. During these nascent years, the monosynth and its limitations tended to make beautifully simple music from sequencing loops and multi-track recording. "La Vie Electronique" gathers the very best. "I Was Dreaming When I Was Awake/And Then I Woke Up/And Found Myself Asleep" is his best composition before his 1972 debut "Irrlicht." The organ tones of "Traumraum" carry a beauty that will filter through his works for years to come as Schulze lets his drone notes nearly drown out his Bach-ian melodies. Finally, the dual studies for Brian Eno and Terry Riley seek to mimic their groundbreaking sounds but actually wind up as some of Schulze's most beautiful recordings. Fascinating.

--