El Perro Del Mar, 'From the Valley to the Stars' (The Control Group)

6
From the Valley to the Stars
Critical Mass
Label: The Control Group

by William Goodman

Aside from the bouncing ivories of "Somebody's Baby" and the girl-group harmonies of groovy gem "How Did We Forget?" Sarah Assbring's third LP ditches the Phil Spector styling behind her 2006 self-titled breakout. Instead, she goes for arty, sparse concepts and downcast instrumentation -- church organs, strings, xylophones, and flutes -- to accompany her tenderly angelic melodrama. Though the 16-track set achieves no sonic heights, Assbring's stirring lyrics and faint yet convincing delivery ("Inner Island," "The Sun Is an Old Friend") convey her heartbreak gracefully.

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