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Music review: Cortney Tidwell – Don’t Let Stars Keep Us Tangled Up April 19, 2008

Posted by ashiah in old.
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I was a little surprise when the press release for Tidwell’s mini album described her music as “gothic country.” I was completely taken aback by the description and started to wonder if there was a plethora of underground avant garde bands making leftfield country music. Perhaps this shows my ignorance about country music, but who knows, they might exist….wherever they are. Fortunately, Tidwell doesn’t allow herself to be pigeonholed, and her full length album is a varied mix of gentle electronics, jazz and acoustics. The most common comparisons are Bjork and Elizabeth Fraser of Cocteau Twins. But honestly, Tidwell sounds like neither of the two and it’s mostly the attitude of the music that stems the comparisons, not the music itself.

“Don’t Let Stars…” is a dream-like record that’s very gentle in its compositions and careful with each direction it turns. It’s never too abrasive or so minimal it provokes boredom. Although some critics are branding Tidwell as a singer/songwriter, I would say she belongs more in the genre of bedroom pop. Tidwell’s music is a bit more spaced out and loose for the typical singer/songwriter (and trust me, this is a good thing).

Tidwell’s voice is another major plus that makes this album stand out. It’s not entirely unique, but it really commands the music, forcing the instruments to take the backseat and let the real star take over. In a way, it’s a lot like Broadcast (I’m using them as an example because they just happen to be on my mind right now) where the vocals sometimes make the songs better than they really are. The standout track “Don’t Let Stars Keep Us Tangled Up” could easily be an instrumental track thrown on some overlooked IDM compilation. But it’s Tidwell’s voice that makes it one of the best tracks on the album.

It’s a little strange that both of Tidwell’s albums are UK imports. Although it doesn’t seem like it, but there’s an adequate amount of people who would be interested in Tidwell’s work over here, too. Coming from Nashville, you would think Tidwell would empathize with her fellow citizens going broke to listen to good music. Here’s hoping a nice US release will be in the near future.

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