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Customer Review

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Warmly invented, 22 Mar. 2007
This review is from: Bavarian Fruit Bread (Audio CD)
Her wispy, soft vocals were the biggest highlight of Mazzy Star's smoky pop. But now that that much-missed band is gone, Hope Sandoval sets out as a solo artist, in the enchanting "Bavarian Fruit Bread." If you can't have Mazzy Star, then this is a pretty good alternative.

It opens with an acoustic guitar playing a slow melody, mellow and gently. That tune doesn't change much throughout the opening song "Drop," except that Sandoval begins singing in a moody, dreamy manner after a minute. That pretty much sets the tone for the entire album, except for a few songs -- sweet vocals, languid melodies, and a few chimes thrown in.

Most of the songs that follow are much the same -- mellow, gentle, sad acoustic ballads. A few break the mold, with an electric guitar riff in the smoldering "On The Low," and a distant piano solo in "Baby Let Me." And the final song "Lose Me On The Way" is a brilliant slice of experimental pop, slowly sliding from guitar to synth and haunted-house effects, and then back again.

"Bavarian Fruit Bread" is undoubtedly Sandoval's own effort, despite all the inevitable comparisons to her defunct band. It's prettier, less jazzy, more delicate, and simpler. And taken only on its own, it's still a remarkably pretty piece of indie folkpop.

Some of the acoustic guitar playing is somewhat weak, which becomes even clearer when the electric one enters the scene. It's far too simple. So, for that matter, is the songwriting ("Gonna find all your trouble/Gonna send them away/Gonna make you feel happy/Gonna be what you say"), although the songwriting's simplicity is something of a blessing.

However, the piano, eerie fuzzy synth, and slightly scratchy violin are well done, and add some extra dimension to the pretty little songs. Perhaps the only instrumental flaw is that Sandoval and her band never pick up the tempo. Everything is slow and languid. Why not a few midtempo songs?

But whatever the melodies are, they seem to exist to frame Sandoval's lovely voice. She puts it to good use here, singing as if she were half asleep. "The way you drop/Is like a stone/Making out you're flying/But you've just been thrown," she murmurs in the opening song. While these are very simple, they are also beautiful in their lack of pretension.

Stripped-down songs and airy melodies are at the heart of "Bavarian Fruit Bread," the solo debut by Hope Sandoval. Sweet and languid all around.
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