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Sister Crayon Bellow Review

Album. Released 2011.  

BBC Review

Fans of Warpaint and School of Seven Bells, investigate this immediately.

Mike Diver 2011

At a time when so many perfectly decent (and better) female vocalists are risking their records being turned off by over-singing when they might’ve been advised to stay within their comfort zones, it’s a pleasure to hear someone who knows that they don’t need to reach ear-piercing levels to get their point across.

Note the name Terra Lopez now as there’s the feeling on this debut album that the Californian singer/songwriter has the talent to, eventually, make an impression on the mainstream – whether it’s with Sister Crayon or not. Her vocals are reminiscent of a fair few parallels – previous press reports have referenced Bat for Lashes and Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval (we’ll add Florence to the mix, when she’s not annoyingly shrill, and My Brightest Diamond’s Shara Worden) – but there’s also something new at work, a singular zeal, emotion that doesn’t come bottled ready to be poured into a recording whenever the producer deems it necessary. She sounds like a star before she’s even flickered into a rhythm, her every sigh the sort of heart-squeezing exhalation that should draw a thousand admirers smashing onto her ruby red lips.

On Ixchel, the Lady Rainbow, Lopez is accompanied almost exclusively by a simple piano – the effect is utterly mesmerising. It’s real stop-what-you’re-doing fare, exquisite in its stark beauty; it actually loses some of its charm when the drums come crashing in towards its climax. But crash in they should, as this is far from a solo project – Lopez is aided by three members contributing wonderfully detailed and textural backdrops, which fluctuate between the warm organic pulse of Here We Never Die to the clattering percussion and woozy organ of And Glass…, sometimes supported by choral vocals which lend additional depth to pieces that are already infinity mirror-like in scope. (In) Reverse could be the greatest single Rihanna’s never released, mixing RnB sensibilities with classical grandeur. It’s one sign, among many, that influences at work aren’t restricted to the rock/indie spectrum.

Past shows with Warpaint and School of Seven Bells provide clues as to who Sister Crayon is likely to appeal to immediately, audience wise. But there might well be more potential here than in either bigger (to date) bill-partner. Lopez is the driving force behind that hunch, for sure. But there’s invention and ability aplenty across these 10 tracks, enough to make Bellow worth substantial investment of anyone’s time.

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