While some of the songs on The Blackened Air
are about forgetting, loss, death and fear, just as many are about love and good things, even if they're in the past.
Nastasia's lyrics often sound broken and insular, cerebral, and not entirely communicative as far as storytelling goes. Yet the combination of lyrics and instrumentation offers a truly intimate and stripped-down listening experience. "I Go With Him" pays just as much homage to Warhol-era Velvet Underground as to the string orchestrations of earlier Tindersticks material. "This Is What It Is" begins with wonderfully soaring accordion and violin sounds - so dramatic - and eventually falls into the quiet beginning of the following track, "Oh My Stars." Here, the distilled voice of Nastasia herself combines and intertwines with whiney violin sounds and tiptoe guitar.
Due in part to the workings of Steve Albini who recorded the album, Nastasia and her band are unafraid to show the broken side of an entire song (a floppy cello string, a clanking saw.) The album swells to tell a story that some claim is inspired by music Slovak in nature, or by country music or singer/songwriter stuff. Whatever it is, there is a wonderful intricacy on The Blackened Air
that equals a large beauty - absolutely gorgeous.
(This review originally appeared in Stylus
, CKUW Winnipeg's program guide)
By Deanna Radford
Jul 23, 2002