Lead singer of 90s indie-rock darlings, Velocity Girl, releases her second solo album further marking her departure from the guitar driven noise pop of her former band. Although her new release provides love songs in spades reminiscent of Burt Bacharach and Carole King, Shannon doesn't shy away from exploring darker subject matter. Groovy laid back beats, warm piano, sweeping strings and stately horns give these songs a timeless classic pop feel with the central feature of Shannon's solo work, her voice, showing strong as ever.
For all its hearkening back to the sounds of classic pop records, Sarah Shannon's second solo album remains a wholly original affair. A lovely panoply of orchestral touches, particularly precocious strings ("Near and Far," "Postwar Hope") and muted trumpet ("On and On," "Salton Sea"), adorns these songs and helps distance Shannon from her continuing association as a (if not "the") former Velocity Girl. But for all the songs--"Along the Way," "On and On," and the title track--that suggest a breezy walk in the park, both lyrically and compositionally, even precious-sounding numbers like "Shiny Little Song" betray a seriously maturing songwriter whose poetics and craft have grown beyond anything suggested by her first, eponymous solo outing. The five-year interim has done wonders for Shannon's voice as well. Never before has it sounded so pure, without losing the distinctiveness that devoted VG fans have adored since 1993's jet-setting Copacetic
. Credit budding producer extraordinaire Martin Feveyear for elevating much of this record from teasingly pleasant in theory to lushly realized in the event. Regardless, if City Morning Song
is any indication, Shannon's potential for lasting pop relevance seems all but assured. --Jason Kirk