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Nell Bryden
Day For Night
157 Records

If you only read one review of Day For Night make it this one. I guarantee that every other mention of this songer/singwriter will contain the description "It's awfully Sarah," followed by "extremely McLachlan." I'll google it later to confirm my speculation. It's too easy to lump Nell Bryden into the ethereal world folk genre occupied by McKennitts, Brennans and Siberrys. While fans of these notable artists may enjoy her warm steady voice, she chooses a simpler delivery. The focus is not on the American Idol flash of arpeggiated runs, but a smooth pitch-perfect tone. When she does cascades she never falls into the trap of letting it distract from the path ahead. There are some subtle things going on in that throat of hers, as she can open a tone up and turn it brash or warm. All this is to say she has a voice like Roberta Flack. Take that, Jonatha Brooke!

Shades of Peter Murphy color the music that carries this mistress of vocal control, like wide expanses with plenty of interesting scenes around every hill. The verses run ram-shod bleeding into the choruses. "Disappear" borrows the bridge from CSN and sometimes Y's "Southern Cross" while "White Rose" is very reminiscent of U2's "One Tree Hill" down to the Edge-y guitar pinging. The banjo and accordion on "Meridian" is so underplayed, you'll hardly notice you're listening to country. The title track turns darker, nearly allowing Bryden to go full throttle. Similarly, "Jetblack Sunrise" feels a bit like Danielle Dax before the whole Beatles debacle. Gene Pitney's "I'm Gonna Be Strong" gets the piano treatment and truly showcases her pipes.

The production is nice, with real snappy drums and layers of ear-candy. Unfortunately Bryden may get overlooked in a world without pity awash with Nora Joneses and Jane Monheits. I'd like to hear Bryden open that voice up and take some more chances. Let's see how far we can push it until it breaks. I know you wanna. It's a good album as is, but there's room for a stellar follow-up.

-Ewan Wadharmi

Track Listing:

1. Daylight
2. Red
3. Disappear
4. Meridian
5. Day For Night
6. Jetblack Sunrise
7. Alone
8. Holding Out
9. White Rose
10. View Of The East River From Atlantic Avenue
11. I'm Gonna Be Strong

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