I rarely do reviews on music, I don’t think I’m qualified to critique musicians that are in many cases much better than myself, but when I heard Unspun, the new album by New York based duo Bliss Blood (Moonlighters, Pain Teens) and Al Street, I felt a duty to share my impression of this ethereal album.
Unspun begins with the hypnotic, acoustic and almost psychedelic, Entropy. The language play and dreamy rhythm guitar in the song recalls some of Syd Barrett’s solo work, but with virtuoso Spanish guitar work by Al Street quietly complementing the song, adding a bit of edge, flare and flavour. Above at all of course is the clear voice of Bliss Blood. Alternating between different singing styles, such as in nuyaim, where the vocals recall an almost Middle Eastern sound, to an old time style give me lots of sugar, which could be right out of the 1920’s. No One Gets It All is a catchy, emotional, modern song driven by Bliss Blood’s ukulele and honeyed voice, which has taken on a mournful, regretful mood, supported by intense bursts of flamenco guitar from Street and haunting lyrics from Blood.
Unlike too many performers these days, Bliss doesn’t try and over-sing, but restrains her powerful singing voice, complimenting, but not overwhelming the songs. Mixing her trademark old time Jazz/Blues/Hawaiian sound with some more sad, atmospheric and personal lyrics than her work with The Moonlighters.
Despite the fact that many of the songs have a dream-like, mellow psychedelic folk sound, the album never becomes boring; each song is exactly as long as it should be. In snowmelt, Bliss’s voice washed over me like sonic honey and morphine.
I can’t pick a favourite track on this album, but the title track of Unspun is a strong contender, with its driving rhythm and intense and emotional solos by Street playing back and forth with Bliss’s singing. My friend and drummer said that vixen reminded him of an Elliott Smith song with a female singer, and I can’t say I disagree. This is the only song on the album that employs electric guitar, and it is employed to the best effect, coming out of nowhere like a bluesy, rockabilly dust storm. In Pitfall, Bliss sounds like a seductive and untouchable 1930’s Jazz singer.
Unspun is a beautiful, emotional, and intense album that fuses together old Jazz, the Blues, Hawaiian music, acoustic music and intense lyrics all woven together by Bliss Blood’s dreamy, seductive, opium smoke vocals and Al Street’s perfectly timed and executed Spanish guitar parts. Its far too easy to miss great independent performers these days, and if you want my opinion Bliss Blood and Al Street are two that you don’t want to overlook.
This is by no means Bliss Blood’s first album, and you can check out her Bandcamp profile for more albums by her and Al Street, the Moonlighters, and Pain Teens. We’ll be taking a look at some of those other albums in the near future so stay posted. Until then, do yourself and independent music a favour and get yourself a copy of Unspun.
Download Unspun Here: https://blissblood.bandcamp.com/album/bliss-blood-al-street-unspun
Bliss Blood’s Bandcamp profile: https://blissblood.bandcamp.com