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4/5

Lydia Lunch/Cypress Grove - A Fistful of Desert Blues

AKelly   (133 reviews)

Posted: 07/04/2014 | Comments: 0 | Rate:

The album title pretty much sums it up on this one. Lydia Lunch has collaborated with guitarist Cypress Grove and they've created an album that literally sounds like a fistful of desert blues. It's a stripped-down, minimalist record that still manages to create a great melancholy and down-trodden soundscape thanks to great songwriting and musicianship.

The album kicks off with one of my favorite songs on the album, "Sandpit." It's a spoken word tune with simple, yet haunting guitar passages that are accompanied by other atmospheric elements like a delayed electric guitar and wind instruments. It's a tale of the struggle to escape, with lyrics like: "Can anyone ever be truly free, if they can't outrun their own shadow?" The second track "When You're Better" features one of my favorite desolate, repeated guitar lines of the whole album. This is the track where we hear Lunch's sang vocals which are really hit-or-miss. To me, it really sounds like she's trying too hard to get the emotion across throughout these songs and it comes off as phony. I had to review the collaboration she did with Big Sexy Noise a few months ago, and I still feel the same way about her voice. I would much rather listen to this whole album as just an instrumental, devoid of her voice completely. It doesn't add much to the album and if anything distracts from the feeling captured by the instruments. Luckily, the writing and performance on this record is so good it's still worth listening to.

In listening to this record as a guitar player, it's hard not to admire Cypress Grove's playing. It always seems like he plays exactly what's necessary to get the point and feeling across-nothing more, nothing less. The room he leaves open in his playing makes the added parts-like the slide guitar part in "Devil Winds" or the twangy electric guitar part in "Jericho"-pack that much more punch.

Overall, this is an enjoyable listen if you're a fan of blues, americana, and/or depressing music with lyrics to match. A lot of the tracks remind me of something you'd hear on the soundtrack to The Last of Us or True Detective. Personally I could do without Lunch's vocals, but the instrumentation more than makes up for that and makes "A Fistful of Desert Blues" worth a listen.

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