CD Review: Leona Naess
By Caroline Horn
Airy vocals and intimate lyrical portraits come together in avant-folk on this singer-songwriter's lush debut.
Leona Naess is delicately confrontational. She tells it like she sees it, but she's also a little self-conscious about her frankness and her lapses into melancholy. "Do I drive you away with these pictures of blue?" she asks. "No," you think. "You draw me in."
In a breathy, languorous voice, Naess begins this 12-track debut with the deceptively innocent "Lazy Days," a relaxed song about enjoying some of life's simple pleasures. Somehow, we don't believe she's "wide-eyed and stupid/[and] waiting for the arrows of Cupid." We're proven right by track two, the uptempo "Charm Attack," where Naess immediately shifts gears, using her cynical smarts to size up a guy who's trouble. As the album unfolds, she continues to alternate between tough observations and vulnerable confessions.
Naess's singing shifts, too. Her high range is sweet and harmonizes beautifully. Other times, she talk-sings and bends the notesconversational and street-wise. Behind her is a sonic tapestry of guitars, strings, vocal loops, and a few random bird sounds for good measure. Kudos for this production go to Tommy D and Scott Litt, the latter of whom devised the lush, progressive sound of so many REM albums.
Comatised is anything but. The swirl of ambient sounds and slurred words is a hypnotic device that lets Naess's perceptions float. But she's not out of it. Just look at her picture on the CD cover: she's looking right at you in all seriousness. And she's not blinking.
© 2000 Caroline Horn. All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.