Edith Frost

Wonder Wonder (Drag City)

Edith Frost is among the cadre of amazingly rare artists for whom genre-pigeonholing is thankfully impossible. While Frost occupies a sonic territory that might be most comfortably described as altcountry, her use of violin and pedal steel is a hallmark of the baroque pop of Velvet Underground and John Cale. With a voice that is as purely country as Patsy Cline's and as poppily expressive as Aimee Mann's, Frost carves a quaint niche all for herself.

Frost's songs are sparse and open odes to heartbreak and loss that, even at their absolute happiest, are achingly subdued. The instruments that Frost utilizes to accent her quiet ruminations are like individual ornaments on a Charlie Brown Christmas tree, offering a bit of color here and there but never obscuring the nakedness of the foundation. Wonder Wonder, Frost's third full-length album, reteams her with producer Rian Murphy, who helped shape her similarly structured debut, Calling over Time. This time Frost revisits the chilly, Spartan atmosphere of Time with "True" and "Hear My Heart" while borrowing a few rock elements from her last album, the Neil Hagerty- and Jennifer Herrema-produced fuzz fest Telescopic on tracks such as "The Fear" and "Merry Go Round." The title track is an odd carnival novelty, like Jonathan Richman rewriting "When I'm 64," while "Easy to Love" nails down the Cline comparison. With a guest list of indie-rock luminaries including Amy Dominguez (Tsunami), Archer Prewitt (the Sea and Cake, the Coctails), and Susan Voelz (Poi Dog Pondering), Frost has created an understated impressionistic masterpiece that can claim membership in a half-dozen different genres without sounding exactly like any of them.

 
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