Cynthia Dall

Sound Restores Young Men

Cynthia Dall performs in Sacramento at the Capital Garage on Sunday, Nov. 10, with Scene Creamers (featuring Michelle and Ian from The Make Up).

Best known for her previous work with Bill Callahan of Smog, San Francisco singer-songwriter Cynthia Dall makes moody indie rock characterized by her delicate voice and minimalist studio touches.

On her sophomore solo record, Dall floats easily from discordant, electric guitar and solo vocals to piano, droning cathedral-like organs, electronica devices—all mixed economically beneath her light voice that often hovers like a little girl singing tiny prayers to herself (think David Lynch torch singer).

Engineered by Tim Green (Fucking Champs, Nation of Ulysses), the songs grow heartier and more aurally experimental as the album progresses and Dall asserts her voice. With song titles like “Nest of Dead Children,” “I Played with Boys” and “Snakeblood & Vodka,” you can pretty much guess that beneath the fragile exterior Dall likes her ghostlike lyrical imagery in-your-face. Clocking in at 6:18, the centerpiece of the album seems to be “Wastebasket Kid II,” which makes nice use of feedback and lingering tones to bolster a pretty, memorable melody.

While some tunes here can sound unfinished, Dall knows how to create an effectively spooky atmosphere that complements her material—and she seems to be still feeling out her aesthetic. Fans of Cat Power, Smog, and other sulky artists that approach the beautiful through minor chord progressions and haunting, punctuated accompaniment should check this out. Or better yet, go see her live.