Thursday, July 23, 2009

Lhasa - Lhasa

On a typical day, give me guitars. Give me the the urgency of 1977, or the slacker attitude of 1993. Give me bummed-out men. But let me make exception for a singer-songwriter like Lhasa de Sela, who produces her own work, records to tape – oh, how lovely, that tape – and performs “Is Anything Wrong” like Jolie Holland minus the accentuated accent. She's got “Rising,” a beautiful number carried by a graceful 3-4-5-6-5-4 finger-picking pattern, and “The Lonely Spider,” a tastefully whimsical metaphor for the woman desperate to pull back the man she's lost. What a sad fucking song.

Lhasa's aging gracefully; her voice is painted somewhat like Leslie Feist's these days, but hers is smoother and more effortless, and her music so much more sensual and elegant. The sloppy angst that came with her first (Spanish-language) record, 1997's La Llorona, is gone, and she's not going the multilingual route, as she did on her significantly better follow-up.

Instead, she's now got a complete album tracing the loss that follows love. “I'm Going In” epitomizes Lhasa, such frailty in her voice, surely untrained, instinctual and suited to the mood created by her cautious fingertips on piano. The story of neverending, unrequited love that occupies “Love Came Here” would be better suited to the dreamy drone of “Bells” than the sultry stomp that will likely make it a college radio single, but then, were that the case, it would turn into a duplicate of “Fool's Gold,” which is sort of a perfect ballad of heartbreak.


The Marquis de Sade once assembled a perfect line of text, “the sequel of this sentiment is madness,” and there's no more flawless phrase with which to describe Lhasa's third. Anyone who's dumped his other should be grateful to have such a beautiful album assigned to him.

Lhasa - Fool's Gold
Lhasa - I'm Going In
Purchase Lhasa.
Read album lyrics here, then weep a little for your exes.

1 comment:

Rick Shide said...

I miss you, Lhasa