In an age of fleeting success and temporary notions, Chris Pureka is an artist of substance, armed with an eye for detail and an emotional intelligence that can switch from withering to compelling with a subtle inflection. Her third studio album, How I Learned To See In the Dark, adds bold new elements to the base she has built over her six-year career. From non-traditional percussion, to lyrical abstraction, to a new unrestrained vocal quality, to Pureka’s choice of co-producer (longtime friend Merrill Garbus of tUnE-YaRds), this record signals an exploration of broader musical soundscapes.
While maintaining the unique alchemy of longing, loss and hope Pureka sets to music, there is a sonic adventurism on How I Learned to See in the Dark that marks a new stage in Pureka’s musical evolution. Even from the first notes of the album’s opening track, “Wrecking Ball”, longtime fans and the newly converted will sense that How I Learned To See In The Dark is a bigger album, deeper and more vast than anything she’s released to date. “I wanted it to feel different right away,” Pureka explains. “And ‘Wrecking Ball’ exemplifies many of the elements that are different from the last record.” That difference is a newfound edginess, coupled with a more abstract sound: there is a musical depth and complexity that shines through each track, all the while maintaining the space and creative instrumentation Pureka is known for. Standout track, “Landlocked”, showcases Pureka’s technical prowess with the finger-picking style that won her so many accolades on Dryland while “Broken Clock” is the rhythm driven, heavy hitter bound to be on your next break up mix. “Wrecking Ball” mixes a playful quirkiness in production with an underlying paced anger, laced with twangs of percussive guitar. Finally, album closer, “August 28th” is the deep breath following the emotional tumult that precedes it – a return to quiet contemplation for the writer and the listener: “I think the whole world needs a shoeshine/I think we’re all living proof.”
VANDAVEER is the alt-folk song-singing/record making/globetrotting project penned and put forth by DC-by-way-of-Kentucky tunesmith Mark Charles Heidinger. Vandaveer’s debut album, Grace & Speed, a mostly live, stripped down affair, swiftly entered this great big dusty world in the spring of 2007. The press responded heartily, with The Washington Post saying Vandaveer “revives the earnestness of the pre-psychedelic 60’s,” and XM Cafe calling him “this generation’s Nick Drake.” Touring continually on both sides of the Atlantic ever since, Vandaveer has played 250+ shows, sharing stages with a host of humbling artists including Bon Iver, Vetiver, Alela Diane, Alejandro Escovedo, Vashti Bunyan, Bill Callahan, Fleet Foxes, and the like. In addition to said Vandaveering, Heidinger has been known to fraternize and conspire with other music-making hooligans, primarily as a bassist for fellow DCers These United States.
Tickets for Chris Pureka and Vandaveer this Thursday, January 13th at the Iron Horse are available at NBO, 413-586-8686, or online at IHEG.com.