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Garden of Deceit

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Album Review

Having made a good mark with their first album, Palodine return on Garden of Deceit with another strong effort; if they are still reaching for a full sound of their own, they are well on their way to accomplishing that. Part of it can be heard in Katrina Whitney's singing, sounding darker and stronger than before, a passionate take on country/soul refracted through the amplified blast and involved arrangements provided by Michael Aryn and Whitney. It's not quite Dusty Springfield goes to hell, say, but the opening "Redwinged Blackbird" alone is the kind of song that upends all the staid alt-country conventions in favor of a dark throb that's closer to Earth than anything else. The thanks the band give to Low in their credits is an indicator as well, but instead of the preternatural control familiar from the Minnesota band's work, Palodine here almost play to a wide stage backdrop, their Walkabouts-derived theatricality given a strong new focus all their own. Nearly every song sounds like a drama (or if one prefers, a melodrama) in miniature, with Aryn's guitar drive, alternately a blast and an understated pace, and Whitney's commanding-then-cool singing driving things forward. But for all that the songs retain their individual identity rather than melting into each other; the end-on-a-tense-note cut of "Sweet Mouth, Black Heart" sounds little like the rolling shuffle of "Woman of Cain," especially with Whitney's sudden clipped calls signaling when Aryn cranks the volume in a dark strut. With other highlights like "A Dozen Stones" (with Aryn's solo a suddenly thrilling delight, a moment of lightness that definitely casts shadows) and the concluding "Magdalene," as moody but vibrant an album ender as one could hope to, to its credit, Garden of Deceit is Palodine's best moment yet and promises much for next time.

Garden of Deceit, Palodine
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