In a world flooded with pop garbage, I thank my good graces every time something even remotely close to what ‘Alabaster Girl’ is and represents, comes along. While you aren’t necessarily supposed to writing a concluding statement in the first few sentences of a review, I will because this album warrants it. This recording hits every button for me, then it hits them all again. I first met Krista Baroni through the medium of competition. Perhaps not the best way to get off on the right foot with someone, be pitted against them for a local music award, but when I first heard her sing and intricately finger pick her guitar that same evening, I knew there was something special about this gal and her music.
There is a graceful simplicity to the sound of the tracks throughout the album. Only utilizing more than Baroni’s voice and gently picked guitar when it is beneficial to the songs and nothing more. Though I would expect nothing else coming from the able hands of the engineering folk at Dirt Floor. There is a sublime greatness to how the arrangements allow for the songs to truly shine through and how the sparseness opens up this whole wonderful space for an experience rather than just a song playing through speakers. Dreamy, warm, deep is how I characterize this feeling and the emotion invoked by this collection of songs. There is something so timeless about these tracks. Everything from the tone of Baroni’s voice to the warmth of the sound screams “this wasn’t recorded in 2014…it was recorded 40 years ago ala Laurel Canyon”, but it was and still has a modern complexity to it, if you really listen to the words…which you will.
The songwriter’s voice absolutely soars on the title track. She goes places with her voices that I can only sit and ponder “how does she do that, how does she go from there to THERE?”. Krista has a comforting maturity to her voice. It really is charming and inviting, absorbing listeners in to listen to her poetry and stories. And this song is just that, it’s beautiful poetry put to music.
Pensive and smart in every respect while maintaining a sense of being down to earth and accessible to a broad audience. There are great singers and then there are great singers who also possess a distinct, untouchable uniqueness in the tone and quality of their voice. This gal falls into the latter camp.
The guitar intro to “Little Soul” has a ghost-like quality. Krista’s soulful voice then brushes broad strokes across the sparse landscape outlined by that slow picked guitar. It is incredible what just a guitar and a voice can evoke in a listener’s heart, sending chills around their ribcage and up their spine. A mere minute and thirty seconds is all it takes to impart those feelings. Mystifying and gorgeous and captivating. The transition between “Little Soul” and “I’m Not Myself Today” is perfect as well. The flow of the songs and the way they slowly build, rising and falling, taking you along the road of stories that are unfolding in front of you.
Intelligent sequencing matching the lyrical substance and storytelling courses through the lifeblood of this record. There remains this sonic quality of being inside a sphere of warmth and comfort through the tracks, despite the differences in arrangement over the sequence of listening. It’s almost an audible high that you feel, its just so damn good. This is a theme for the entire album regardless of the amount of instrumentation. You are really brought into the record, pulled into this experience, living and feeling it in a way that not many other recordings are able to do.
To sum it up, if you want well crafted and meaningful songwriter: you got it. If you want a female songwriter who is equal parts velvety smoothness, ocean deepness, and embodies warmth like a crackling fire on a bitter cold evening: you got it. If you want music that makes you feel something, music that says something and is profound and beautiful: well folks, you got that too. Warm textures, great songwriting, and a timeless quality define Baroni’s latest effort. This record just scratches the surface of how deep this songwriter’s talent runs.
(photo courtesy of Margaret Belanger)