Hope Sandoval and the Warm Intentions: Through the Devil Softly (Shock)

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Hope Sandoval: Blue Bird
Hope Sandoval and the Warm Intentions: Through the Devil Softly (Shock)

Sandoval was the emotionally cool, quietly mesmerising singer in Mazzy Star who has been off the radar for some while as a front person. (She has collaborated widely however, a new Mazzy album soon.)

Here she fronts the band of her partner Colm O Ciosoig (of My Bloody Valentine) and various others on their first outing in about eight years.

Little has changed in her emotionally close but appealingly tepid singing which is given breathy breadth by the production so her swooning quality sounds as fresh, detached and welcome as ever.

This occupies securely post-rock, dim lights alt.folk territory which comes with cello, lonely harmonica, gentle vibraphones and a massive bass presence in the eerie For the Rest of Your Life.

Sandoval has such a distinctive vocal style that some of these songs -- even though they are some way removed from the Mazzy Star autograph style -- sound immediately familiar, notably the spare Lady Jessica and Sam and the lovely piano and alt.country-guitar ballad Blue Bird.

There is an aloof stateliness here too (Thinking Like That with its scraped cello) and a rare flash of drama in the noir-pop of Trouble where big guitars move across the background.

Gentle, seductive, elegant, mostly taken at walking pace or slower, and full of that wistful weightlessness Sandoval’s slightly sandpaper vocals can conjure up.

No real surprises, just pure 2am music of quality.

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