Personnel: Nedelle Torrisi (vocals); Julia Holter (vocals); Bill Damien (harp); Julia Carpenter (violin); Heather Locklin (viola); Jessica Catron (cello); Sam Torrisi (clarinet).
Audio Mixer: Kenneth Gilmore.
Recording information: Azusa Pacific University; The Hanger.
Photographer: Ken Seeno .
The recording of Nedelle Torrisi's third album (and first under her full name) was a little bit on the eventful side. After two weeks in the studio with her friend Kenny Gilmore, it took another two years to finish the album between tours (Gilmore with Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, Torrisi with Sufjan Stevens). And then there was the time when Gilmore's laptop was left behind in Russia and wasn't returned for months. Despite all the tumult, the album is beautifully calm and soothing. Torrisi's quiet voice, her emotionally rich songs, and Gilmore's extremely sympathetic production combine to make the listening experience something very rewarding. Drawing from soft rock and Laurel Canyon influences, subtle electronics, and sweet indie pop, sometimes the record has the feel of Steely Dan doing trip-hop; sometimes it sounds like Carole King recording the songs she wrote in 1972 with slightly clunky but expertly operated 2013 technology. However you look at it, the duo creates a sound here that's very easy to sink deeply into as the wide variety of instruments and sounds lowers your blood pressure and Torrisi's tender croon whispers encouragement that bypasses your ear and heads for the heart instead. Alternately sounding cheerful, like on the peppy "I Love Thousands Every Summer" or the lovely and direct "Born to Love You," and mournfully sad on the slow R&B-inspired ballads like "Can't Wait" and "Don't Play Dumb," the album covers a wide range of emotions and moods but always features Torrisi's quiet heart beating right in the center. It's an extremely personal-feeling album that's made universal by how good it sounds and how sneakily catchy the songs turn out to be after a listen or two. She's made records that were good before, but this collaboration with Gilmore is her best work to date, and fans of small, finely wrought pop music should be glad the duo stuck with it and saw the record to its beautiful conclusion. ~ Tim Sendra