White Magic | Dat Rosa Mel Aribus (Drag City)

cd_whiteroseThis is the second album from the nu-folkers that back in 2004 put out Through the Sun Door, a collection of six wonderful songs including the pleasantly repetitious "One Note" and one of my favorite tracks of 2004, "Keeping the Wolves From the Door."

 

 

 

The new White Magic album, Dat Rosa Mel Aribus, is somewhat of a letdown. The New York trio, made up of bassist/drummer Miggy Littleton (Blood on the Wall), guitarist Andy Macleod, and singer/guitarist/pianist Mira Billotte, climbed aboard the freak-folk scene with Joanna Newsom on the brilliant, Devendra Banhart-curated compilation, Golden Apples of the Sun. This is the second album from the nu-folkers that back in 2004 put out Through the Sun Door, a collection of six wonderful songs including the pleasantly repetitious "One Note" and one of my favorite tracks of 2004, "Keeping the Wolves From the Door."

This release is certainly different, and the first half of the album is hard to take. Unlike Drag City label mate Joanna Newsom, Dat Rosa Mel Aribus contains twice as many songs, the track selections aren't as picky, and the room for experimentation hurt the band in the end. Every song has at least one intriguing part but many fade off into boringness. After the album's halftime, songs pick up in speed and interesting vocals and interesting music finally bond. The title track is the first sign of light and the rendition of the Karen Dalton folk-classic, "Katie Cruel," is another strong point.

Track eight, "Hold Your Hands in the Dark," is a breakthrough song. From there the album flows nicely. "Palm and Wine" boasts Billotte's throaty, masculine voice for the best song on the record and is followed up by "Song of Solomon," which utilizes heavy vocal effects in a key song that sounds unlike any other White Magic piece. However unique or weird it is, it works.

The tragedy is that after their first five suffocating songs, the rest of the album is on the verge of outstanding. White Magic is not doomed; the album just wasn't well groomed (good rhyme?). Boring selections were made, there were too many songs, and even the good ones lasted too long. I still expect big things from the up-and-coming folk outfit. C+ | Joseph O'Fallon

RIYL: Edith Frost with Dresden Dolls on piano

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