Dyed in the Wool

Goddamn, the human heart’s a twisted piece of work. Just when you think it’s OK, safe to be cynical again, in rushes a sound, a fury and a muso-lyrical poet that upsets the apple cart and sends you reeling back to square one.

Just like that, Shannon Wright — via her latest full-length, Dyed In The Wool — pulls the indie singer-songwriter genre back from the brink of third-generation imitative mediocrity. Dyed in the Wool isn’t so much an extension of her previous albums flightsafety and Maps of Tacit so much as it is a synthesis and the result of an ongoing musical alchemy. A bold claim, to be sure, but listen: Wright’s songwriting — at times bordering on minimalist baroque (an oxymoron, sure) with piano, percussion (Man or Astroman?’s Brian Teasley), bass (Andy Baker) and voice (oh, that voice, always that voice, timorous but demanding, shaking you from casual reverie into rapt attention) — ebbs and flows from dissonant to sweet, hushed to howling. Precise and haunted string arrangements add punctuation from time to time, but there’s always Wright, the conductor-narrator, leading. We find our heroine climbing up ladders and peeping in dirt-caked windows of abandoned places in the heart and primal places at the base of the spine to tell stories of what she thinks she sees.

Tiny earthquakes? No. More like tiny tsunamis drawing energy from the deep and flooding comfortable homes along the seashore.

E-mail Chris Handyside at [email protected].

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