A few items that will never go out of fashion in popular music are breathy female vocals, reverb, and violin accompaniments. Pittsburgh’s Emily Rodgers has all three in spades in her latest release Bright Day. Siren song mixes with twang-y guitar at a slow tempo to create a moody, melancholy ambiance reminiscent of Cowboy Junkies and Mazzy Star.
Ms. Rodgers clearly knows her sweet spot and teases out of the vocals a righteous blend of Hope Sandoval (QRO album review), Shany Kedar (QRO album review), and a little bit of the Cranberries’ Dolores O’Riordan (if she was on valium). "In Spring Alchemy" and "Hell" provide genuinely bracing musical moments. When the violin strings build to crescendo behind Ms. Rodgers narrative during "In Spring Alchemy" a tragedy unfolds, exacting a sort of cathartic relief that is only possible in art. "Can You See Me Now?" picks up the tempo with a 10,000 Maniacs rock strut and Natalie Merchant-style balladeering.
The excess of reverb throughout the album, however, limits the territory that Ms. Rodgers and Co. are able to effectively cover. A little reverb warms up a sound; too much melts it to mush. Towards the end you’ll have trouble distinguishing one track from the next. If a few tracks had been whittled away from Bright Day, it could be a fantastic EP. Too much material, though, is the sort of complaint made strictly by music critics. The average (sane) citizen will extract the good bits and not give a thought to the whole. That’s as it should be – there are plenty of golden moments here. The sad undertones of the album may not make your day bright, but Bright Day might make your next mixtape.