Mar 22, 2021
By Andy Von Pip
As the title might suggest, Allie Crow Buckley’s debut album Moonlit and Devious is an album informed by duality. One of light and shade, heaven and hell, virtue and perhaps vice. Buckley was born in San Francisco but spent her formative years in New Zealand where she studied dance, which might explain the flawless sense of rhythm that runs throughout this quite beautiful album. What’s also remarkable about such an assured debut is the fact that Buckley had never sung publicly up until a couple of years ago.
There’s no doubt Buckley has an exquisite voice. It often feels like being immersed in a lake of black honey, it’s timeless, one imbued with magic, mystery and seductive beauty. Her songwriting is just as mesmerizing and it takes a darker turn than her previous work as she conjures up classical imagery and motifs against a shimmering, albeit occasionally foreboding, sonic backdrop. Everything has a natural flow. Layers of distorted guitars and atmospheric synth flourishes contribute dramatic texture, as does Buckley’s beloved 1960s Wurlitzer Funmaker, which adds a ghostly twist to proceedings.
Buckley’s songs are often informed by her nomadic spirit, the wonderful previous single “Nothing Sacred” was inspired by her travels to Italy. The title track is about separation longing and desire. It’s almost like a hypnotic siren song as she teases ”being good in your absence/I sink my teeth into the bit/I just hope you’re into this/It’s so romantic in my head/Oh won’t you give me a kiss.” Elsewhere “Hasta La Vista” is a gorgeous lament in which Buckley admits to “feeling less holy than I might’ve hoped.” There’s the chiming “Golden Medallion,” which was written with Sharon van Etten, and the shimmering almost gothic sense of grandeur on “Trouble In Paradise,” with its “echo of the church bells,” which is simply stunning. When Buckley articulates lines such as “You touch your lips to mine/I bite down upon your feeble kiss” you could imagine her singing this as a duet with Nick Cave.
It’s a quite beautiful and remarkably accomplished debut from a singer and songwriter who has created her own dualistic world, one in which the listener can completely immerse themselves. One suspects there is plenty more to come from the dark sophisticated glittering heart of Allie Crow Buckley. (www.alliecrowbuckley.com)
Author rating: 8.5/10
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