Release Date: October 9, 2015
Seattle born, Los Angeles lured, Amy Blaschke has been making her own brand of indie folk throughout the 2000’s. Opaline is her first collection of new material since 2013’s Desert Varnish. The album was produced by Brian Whelan (Dwight Yoakum, The Broken West) and his country-tinge is certainly felt subtly throughout the album.
While the whole album has a dreamy feel about it, the sparse, often slow-moving, and usually expressive feel immediately reminded me of the first ladies of country music. While Blaschke’s voice isn’t as commanding as Patsy Cline or Loretta Lynn, many of the same qualities are certainly present here. “My Own Only” is probably the penultimate example. Blaschke delivers a sultry, yet low key, vocal performance that straddles the semi-hushed instrumentation behind her. “Just Roses” is another such moment, although it incorporates a bit more of a haunting flavor (airy background vocals, a more prominent/driving rhythm section, and lead guitar work that enters and exits seemingly at will) which makes Blaschke’s voice feel a bit more modern.
Where Blaschke excels though are the artsier, pop inspired pieces. The Syd Barrett feel of “Running Into the Fire” is an upbeat but quirky ride that quickly became one of my favorites from the album. “All of One Love” is another favorite. It’s atmospheric and expansive vocally, showcases Blaschke’s solid range, but is very straightforward musically, making it easier to latch onto than some of the other tunes.
Overall this is a solid album if your feet are firmly planted around the edges of the singer/songwriter genre. Honestly, I don’t think this has the potential to have a wide appeal but fans of the artsier side of things, and maybe even a handful of modern vintage country music enthusiasts, will certainly find a lot to enjoy about Opaline.
Reviewed by Mark Fisher