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Two Kinds of Weather

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Album Review

This is Karen Pernick's second singer/songwriter outing, a follow-up to her well-received Apartment 12, which came out in 1997. If the songs on this album are any indication, the ten years between albums weren't happy ones for Pernick. The material concentrates on themes of loss, destruction, defeat, and mortality, most delivered at a dirgelike pace, shaded by morose instrumental tracks heavy on spooky pedal steel, despondent spaghetti Western guitar, and funereal B-3 organ washes. Wayne Horvitz, known for his work with Bill Frisell and Eddie Palmieri, produced and played keys, but there are no jazzy touches. The music blends smoky late-night blues, despondent folk, and a touch of country for a vibe that could fit into the loosely defined Americana niche, but could just as easily be in its own moody pigeonhole. Horvitz and Pernick keep things dark and quiet, befitting the somber persona the singer projects on these brooding little gems. Her voice sounds like a smoother, mellower Marianne Faithfull, or maybe a more tranquil Chrissie Hynde, as she lays out her tales of betrayal and confusion with a weary resignation that approaches a strange state of grace. The band plays so quietly that the backing tracks are almost subliminal, shadows dancing behind Pernick's measured vocals. "Name of That Bird" paints a gloomy portrait of trembling twilight trees and weeping birds, with the lament of a ghostly harmonica and the fat indigo notes of a resophonic guitar enhancing Pernick's cheerless singing. The album's aura is perfectly described in the title track: the sun is shining but the wind is rising and there's an ominous pressure building in the air, and in the heart of the singer. Sunshine and clouds, icy cold and oppressive heat, light and dark all struggle in the singer's eyes as she looks out the window at an approaching storm. That mixture of dread and anticipation creates the tension that makes Pernick's art so compelling. ~ j. poet, Rovi


Genre: Country

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Singer/songwriter Karen Pernick's low-key style has been described as haunted, melancholic, and darkly poetic. Her two albums, Apartment 12 and Two Kinds of Weather, are filled with telling observations on the human condition, delivered simply in a calm, smoky voice that makes her tales of lives slowly falling to pieces even more devastating. She's played festivals from Seattle's Bumbershoot to Austin's SXSW, as well as folk clubs from coast to coast, picking up a bunch of songwriting awards along...
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