Skylar Gudasz — Cinema (April 17, 2020)
⊆⊕⊇ Písničkářka z Durhamu v Severní Karolíně má hlas, přitahující metafory o hypnóze. Její druhé album odhaluje jemné, komplexní představení ženskosti, odolávající snadným řešením.
⊆⊕⊇ Cinema se točí kolem dvou archetypů: hvězdy a serveru — toho, kdo je jen viděn a toho, kdo nikdy není. První z nich má velký nadpis v názvu a odstínu filmu noir, druhý ve „Waitress“ a videu pro „Rider“. Tyto dvě postavy se společně stírají v písni „Actress“, nejčistším vyjádření rezistence Skylar Gudasz k řešení několika expozic do jednoho obrazu. Překrývající se a posouvající hrany mezi osobní a promyšlenou touhou jsou zpochybněnou zónou, kterou prozkoumává. Místo toho, aby se vyhnula hodnocením a projekcím, jako je špatná dívka, sladká dívka, tvrdá dívka — opravdu jakýkoli druh dívky —, Gudasz je zkouší kvůli velikosti, humanizuje je, jen aby vrátila prázdné kostýmy se svíravou otázkou ke kultuře, která je vytvořila: „Takže to je to, co chcete? Jste si jisti?“
Location: Durham, North Carolina
Album release: April 17, 2020
Record Label: Suah Sounds
1. Femme Fatale 4:46
2. Actress 3:35
3. Play Nice 3:33
4. Rider 2:22
5. Animal 5:12
6. Short Staying 3:10
7. Go Away 3:48
8. Have We Met, Sir 6:40
9. Waitress 4:02
⊇ Skylar Gudasz — electric guitars, acoustic guitars, flute, piano, synths, vocals, dictaphone, percussion.
⊇ Brad Cook — background vocals, ebow, dictaphone.
⊇ Jeff Crawford — electric guitar, synth, effects, organ, percussion, horn arrangements.
⊇ Shane Leonard — drums, percussion, acoustic guitar.
⊇ Pete Lewis — drums.
⊇ Ari Picker — electric guitar, effects.
⊇ Libby Rodenbough — violin, background vocals, dictaphone.
⊇ Casey Toll — electric bass, upright bass.
⊇ Nick Vandenberg — trombone.
⊇ James Wallace — drums.
⊇ Cinema recorded at April Base in Eau Claire, WI; Goth Construction Studios in Pittsboro, NC; Arbor Ridge Studios in Chapel Hill, NC and the Fidelitorium in Kernersville, NC.
⊇ Produced by Skylar Gudasz, with additional production on tracks Actress, Rider, Animal, Short Staying, Go Away, Have We Met, Sir and Waitress by Brad Cook, on tracks Femme Fatale, Actress, Play Nice, Short Staying, Go Away, Have We Met, Sir and Waitress by Jeff Crawford and on tracks Femme Fatale, Actress, Play Nice and Go Away by Ari Picker.
⊇ Engineered by Jeff Crawford, Zach Hanson, Ari Picker, Missy Thangs and Chris Boerner.
⊇ Rider mixed by Jeff Crawford at Arbor Ridge Studios. Tracks Animal, Short Staying, Have We Met, Sir and Waitress mixed by Mark Nevers at Beech House Recording. Tracks Femme Fatale, Actress, Play Nice and Go Away mixed by Ari Picker at Goth Construction Studios.
⊇ Mastered by Jeff Lipton and Maria Rice at Peerless Mastering, Boston, MA.
⊇ All songs written by Skylar Gudasz (BMI) © 2020 Skylar Gudasz.
by Brian Howe ⌊APRIL 24 2020⌋ Score: 7.4
⊕⊇ Skylar Gudasz’s 2016 debut, Oleander, was North Carolina’s best~kept secret. Her follow~up, Cinema, is already attracting national attention. It’s not hard to see why this might be Gudasz’s moment: She’s a gifted singer~songwriter with a voice that attracts metaphors about hypnotism, and she’s wound her rhythm section like a swinging silver watch. Cinema is as dark and groovy as Oleander was bright and wafting; it’s more imperative and solidly formed. It also adds enough breadth to her discography to glimpse, beyond the individual beautiful songs, the outline of a holistic artistic persona, distinguished by Gudasz’s subtle, complex staging of femininity.
⊕⊇ Cinema’s multitude of genres are all tuned to the storm~cloud key of majestic opener “Femme Fatale.” “Rider” is country, “Animal” is folk, “Actress” is garage~psych, and “Go Away” is piano pop, but the album’s well~developed throughlines make the variation discreet. Gudasz’s band of North Carolina ringers sail at a measured pace, just like how she sings, and the scratchy snarl of her guitar keeps the organs and strings down to earth. The fountaining run of her voice recalls Joni Mitchell, while her classic yet chameleonic songwriting suggests Leonard Cohen, another student of ambiguity with the nerve to put his own name in a song, as Gudasz does on “Animal.” But her developing conceptual persona adds something new to the mix: the enigmatic self~performance of someone like Lana Del Rey.
⊕⊇ Individually, the songs impress with the poetry and grace of their sensory details, like the “waist inside the crook of my arm” from the back of a motorcycle on “Rider.” Cumulatively, they bring the razor~edged meaning of certain recurring traits into sharp focus. That “Rider” verse proceeds with such delicacy that it’s easy to miss the bloody crash at the end, and it’s indicative of the way Gudasz ironizes images of love without cheapening them.
⊕⊇ Her songs almost invariably contain an “I” and a “you,” though Gudasz might be either, neither, or both. She addresses women characters with tenderness, and men with amused contempt veiled by sweetness. (Any time you hear her call someone “babe,” watch out.) She slips, blank~faced, into masculine pronouns, a device that runs from Oleander’s “I’ll Be Your Man” to her stunning recent cover of “Wichita Lineman.” Iconic images of feminine glamour — in press photos, she reclines on the hood of a classic car or stands on a dune wearing fur — are Trojan horses for songs that undermine them from within, as Gudasz deconstructs male projections through pantomime and denunciation. “I ain’t no silent doll, and I ain’t that sweet,” she warns on “Play Nice,” lest anyone is having trouble telling the sugar from the salt.
⊕⊇ Cinema revolves around two archetypes: the star and the server, the one who is only seen and the one who never is. The former is writ large in the album’s title and film~noir tint, the latter in “Waitress” and the video for “Rider.” The two characters blur together in “Actress,” the purest expression of Gudasz’s resistance to resolving multiple exposures into one pat image. The overlapping, shifting edges between personal and projected desire are the contested zone she’s exploring. Instead of evading projections such as bad girl, sweet girl, tough girl — any kind of girl, really — Gudasz tries them on for size, humanizing them, only to fling back the empty costumes with a potent question for the culture that created them: So, this is what you want? Are you sure?