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Snapshots #6 - Tara Jane O'Neil, Utah Carol, Gabriel

Snapshots #6

Tara Jane O'Neil, Utah Carol, Gabriel "Naïm" Amor, Greg Weeks, Don Nino

We were very much looking forward to "In The Sun Lines," as we'd totally fallen for Tara Jane O'Neil's first album, "Peregrine." And to say the least, we were not disappointed! Tara Jane keeps exploring her quiet and delicate music led by intertwined guitars, banjo, cello, violin, flute, piano... and a matching voice that perfectly coils itself up on these sound textures. The last two tracks, "A Noise In The Head" and "New Harm," and their hypnotic loops come up as two little marvels. We're not the sort to deny that musical happiness is not a distinguishing mark of our record collection. But once in a while, when Salako or Papas Fritas album plops down in our cd player, we don't mind that stiff breeze airing out our ears. Such is the case with "Comfort For The Traveler" by Utah Carol, a Chicago duo that delivers a surprising mixture of 60's pop, country, and folk music. It's quite an enjoyable record--unavoidably efficient melodies, blended (male and female) warm vocals, and it comes gift-wrapped in folk music: we couldn't help but feel delighted! The members of Amor Belhom Duo have been quite busy this year: after the new edition of their first album and the release of their collaboration with their cousins at Calexico, here's Gabriel "Naïm" Amor going solo. His album is titled "Soundtracks," and that's the best word to describe this cd: instrumental tracks, following one another like film sequences, with soft intimate themes and warm-toned atmospheres. Naïm invites us to travel with his soundtrack, while letting our imagination try and find the matching images (wide shots of desert landscapes, low-speed steam train rides towards new horizons, interspersed with deserved catnaps). We knew Greg Weeks as a perfect folk singer, and now he's back without warning armed with a mini-moog, a mellotron, and a harmonium. But in spite of this complete change in his instrumentation, the chap will not lose us, because fortunately his voice and his melodies are still there. And so, we step into "Awake Like Sleep" quite easily, as if we were paying a visit to a friend who'd decided to change all his furniture. Now all we need is to open the drawers and look for concealed doors to find treasures. Every year has its overwhelming French band. After Amor Belhom Duo last year, it's now Don Nino's turn with "Real Seasons Make Reasons." In order to understand how strong the impact is, we could say that this album reminds us of such giants as Smog, Talk Talk, Tara Jane O'Neil, and Gastr Del Sol. First, it takes a dozen times listening to it to really get into these falsely quiet compositions and to start thrilling to the guitar loops (especially on the impressive "We All Look The Same"), but once initiated, the listener can let himself go and discover a luxuriant universe.

- Translation : Eloïse Stéclebout and Eric Bensel
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