PARADISE OUTLAW Red House Records ★★★★ Fragile and subtle beauty in career high from singer-songwriter
There’s a beautiful fragility to Pieta Brown’s latest album. It’s a subtle and emotive set and it feels as though you’re catching glimpses of the music at the edge of vision, seen through mist, and just barely hearing snatches of lyrics from her breathy and ethereal voice. The overall effect is dream-like, delicate as gossamer. Husband, guitarist and producer Bo Ramsey deserves much credit as his guitar lines keep everything together, provide depth and no little grace. Whether recording at the studio of Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) helped too who knows but something of his style seems to have rubbed off as well.
All that said though this is definitely Brown’s album. The haiku-esque All My Rain is a simple and powerful statement of intent and the simply gorgeous instrumental Little Swainson, written about a hawk, are perhaps the standouts but in truth that’s unfair to the remaining dozen pieces, for the desperate Letter In Hand about a dead soldier that recalls Emmylou Harris’s SPYBOY period, the ineffably sad Painter’s Hands, these and more would be standouts on lesser albums. PARADISE OUTLAW is rather different from Brown’s previous work but it’s definitely the best things she’s done. Jeremy Searle