Even as a member of the Boulder duo Chairlift, Caroline Polachek’s pop compositional talents were obvious. Since going solo eponymously and as “Ramona Lisa,” Polachek stretched the limits of electronic pop. Desire, I Want to Turn Into You (Sony Music), released for streaming Feb. 14, extends such leaps exponentially. The opening track “Welcome to My Island” has a style recalling epic 1980s dance extravaganzas. But in the following song, Polachek finds a voice like Imogen Heap in the quiet “Pretty in Possible.”
The dozen tracks don’t follow a radical whiplash from song to song. Polachek’s synth-style was emergent in 2019’s stunning Pang, and now this hybrid approach combining elements of Heap and Kate Bush is applied to ballads like “Hopedrunk Everlasting,” and even a faux-Celtic reel, “Blood and Butter,” with young bagpipe virtuoso Brìghde Chaimbeul. Polachek’s May 14 Denver date at Mission Ballroom is a chance to catch a possible artist of the year.
Also New & Noteworthy
Free Range, Practice (Mick Music) – Sofia Jensen is a regular fixture in the Chicago music cloister around Jeff Tweedy and Wilco. The debut of Jensen’s Free Range project is a subtle and alluring affair, opening with a tenor vocal approach like Bon Iver, before settling into a quiet confessional style closer to Big Thief or Soccer Mommy. Tracks like “Growing Away” or “Want to Know” are perfect for crying in your beer in a small-town tavern.
JD Clayton, Long Way from Home (self-released) – That unassuming Arkansas singer who opened for Tanner Ursey at Vultures Feb. 23 is as far from black-hat bros as country music gets. Clayton’s debut album is loaded with simple gratitude for fatherhood and rural life. Tracks like “American Millionaire” prove that sincerity doesn’t have to equal syrupy. Clayton hopes to show Nashville that good country music can avoid the shit-kicker syndrome.