Personnel: Fiona Brice (vocals, violin, electric violin, piano, organ); Vicky Matthews (cello).
Audio Mixer: Julian Simmons.
Photographer: Fiona Brice.
Quietly announcing itself with the sunlit cascades of "Berlin," Fiona Brice's debut solo effort is a lovely collection of cinematic snapshots, each one inspired a different city. The veteran violinist and composer has already led an impressive career as a session player and arranger for everyone from Jay-Z to Vashti Bunyan. Her role as touring member and multi-instrumentalist sidewoman for British alt-rockers Placebo was one of her more constant and visible gigs of the 2000s. The years of touring have made their impact on the globe-trotting musician, resulting in this impressionistic personal travelog whose musical geography ranges from Denton, Texas to the tropical Thai island of Koh Yao Noi. Described by Brice as a set of "musical selfies," Postcards From owes far more to the artist's inner landscapes than the locations for which they are named. For example, Brice's two paeans to America's ever-colorful Lonestar State, "Dallas" and "Denton," are among the album's moodiest tracks, reminding listeners that the state of the heart can often be at odds with one's surroundings. Assembled over the course of five years, the songs began as emotional reactions sparked at various destinations along life's unpredictable route. Manifested later through the lens of memory, the tracks deepened into their different personalities, from the sparse piano waltz of "Paris" to the robust string march of "St. Petersburg." Like "Berlin," "Koh Yao Noi" is another pastoral dreamscape of bright strings suggesting near-transcendent inner experiences in those two disparate locations. "Glastonbury," the track most tonally appropriate to its namesake, is a majestic and deeply moving composition that truly captures the essence of the U.K.'s mystical tor. Not quite classical, though certainly not pop, Postcards From is a fascinating meditation from the soul of a traveler. ~ Timothy Monger