Saturday, March 8, 2014
By KRISTIN DiCARA McCLELLAN
In this solo debut, "Head Full of Bells," Anna Lombard has released herself from the shackles of being only associated with Gypsy Tailwind, the Americana act that she co-founded and fronted.
HOW IT RATES
ANNA LOMBARD: "HEAD FULL OF BELLS"
Produced by Adam Agati
Based on a four-star scale
She has struggled to find her own voice within this community that fell in love with her delightfully soft, yet powerful voice mixed with catchy folky music that caught the Portland music scene off guard and on fire for a couple of years.
They were like a comet, suddenly lighting the sky with exuberance, then disappearing almost as quickly as they showed up (at least with Lombard in the lineup). This left people with a longing to catch a glimpse again of what they had previously witnessed, but too quickly Lombard had to jump off and switch gears, confusing the public about who she was.
As the Earth keeps turning and each year autumn comes back around with a different but never less than spectacular display of Mother Nature's beauty, so has Lombard come back around.
Friends and fellow musicians Adam Agati and Nicholas Falk have etched in stone a permanent spot for Lombard's gorgeous and enigmatic voice.
While listening to the eight-song CD, I became quite aware that, in particular, Agati and Lombard have used their talents the best to their advantage.
Lombard stepped back to let Agati write the music and play guitar, while she took over the reins with her beautiful voice and musicianship. This way of doing things works because there is line drawn for those roles and leaves no mystification.
The songs are all very congruent with each other, laid-back soulful pop mixes with coolly placed acoustic guitar, drum beats and subtle bass. This leaves the space for Lombard's voice, the strongest but most velvety textured layer of the compositions.
Because each song is artfully produced with precise vision, they roll into one another effortlessly. Any one of them can be heard on the radio and you would know it was part of one collaboration.
One of my favorites is "Life Takes," as I felt a slight shift in direction, and Lombard took some chances with her voice a bit more than in most of the rest of the CD, other than the strong finisher "All for You." The way she sings the verses here almost reminds me of Alanis Morrisette slowed down and refined, but with sweet nuances, character and a broad range.
"Head Full of Bells" is available now from iTunes, Bandcamp and Bull Moose. Check out Lombard live this fall as she plays around the area in support of this lovely CD.
Kristin DiCara-McClellan is a Portland freelance writer.