Amilia K. Spicer – Wow and Flutter
The dozen songs on Amilia K. Spicer’s new album on Wow and Flutter stand as representative of her best work. There’s a commonality of approach, but there isn’t a single sound on the release that imitates earlier efforts. There’s a broad based approach working here that seeks to conjure some familiar sounds, but these influences are filtered in a fine way through her unique sensibilities. She shows a willingness to take risks with structure and storytelling that are her own purview rather than some sort of elaborate mimicry of other and often earlier artists. This is the sort of voice this form needs for it to continue living into the future as something beyond a butterfly pinned under glass. Her performances come across with great warmth and naturalness that makes Wow and Flutter glow with a bright inner light.
It kicks off on just the right note with “Fill Me Up”. She does an excellent job balancing a variety of influences on this album but certainly favors certain approach on select tracks. The first song has a light bluesy flavor, but she clearly works in an Americana/folk tradition that encompasses much more than just one narrow style. It’s a spotless pick for the album’s first single. “Harlan” has influences that later tracks will further elaborate on, but the mix here between her traditional elements and modern inclinations is nearly perfectly achieved. There’s some mildly surprising touches throughout the album and “Harlan” sports more of those elements than some. “This Town” goes along a much more folkie route, but she keeps things from becoming too dry thanks to sweetening the stew with some of the album’s finest harmonies. The song tells a great story, as well, and her talents for conveying its details will linger in listener’s memories.
“Shotgun” might surprise some as well. One normally wouldn’t expect a song with such a title to exhibit such care, attention to detail, and careful composition. Despite these qualities, it has an impressively warm sound and the vocals rank among the album’s best. “Train Wreck” dispenses with some of the delicacy heard in earlier tracks and shares some of the strengths we’ve heard on the earlier “This Town”. Spicer accomplishes a lot as a storytelling thanks to only a few choice details and her phrasing accentuates it all nicely. The bright hue surrounding the track “Shake It Off” and she makes great use of a common expression without ever risking clichéd nonsense, but she returns to the same eloquent qualities we heard in earlier songs with the shimmering elegance of “Windchill”. The icy title shouldn’t worry any listeners – the shimmer shrouded this song radiates with powerful emotions conveyed with great feel. The final “uptempo” number is “What I’m Saying”, another song excelling thanks to its conversational beauty and the immensely tasteful accompaniment. “Shine” has the same effect, but achieves it much differently. She builds an impressive cathedral of sound for this song that makes for a memorable final curtain. This is an artist capable of great diversity without ever betraying so much as a single misstep. Wow and Flutter is essential listening.
9 out of 10 stars