Gretchen Lieberum - Siren Songs
Not sure exactly what to expect from the name Gretchen Lieberum, I was partly readied for the sounds of some German hardcore metal band. Actually, Gretchen Lieberum is a female singer-songwriter from Los Angeles with - it says on her MySpace - a "passion for jazz, soul and urban beats".
Siren Songs is the most understated album I've heard in a long time. The production keeps to the aforementioned styles, although for "urban beats" think Portishead-lite rather than Timbaland. While tastefully sophisticated, the arrangements are never really more than a bed for Gretchen's voice. Fortunately, her voice, vaguely in the Tracey Thorn mould, is very nice.
Yes, Do You Realize and Teardrop are covers of The Flaming Lips and Massive Attack classics respectively. It may be churlish to complain that they add nothing when the whole point seems to be to strip away. The former is rendered pretty much as a piano ballad and, for the first time, I can make out the words on the latter.
Siren Songs is obviously intended as "late night music for grown ups", if you know what I mean. It's pleasant, occasionally haunting, and, at only thirty-seven minutes in length, doesn't outstay its welcome. Oh, and it may just get you a shag.