REVIEW: Nina Nastasia: Run to Ruin
Nina Nastasia: Run to Ruin [Touch and Go, 2003] (mp3)
Three words? pocket summer storms
New York's Nina Nastasia lives in New York City. She was born in Hollywood. She plays music. This is Nina Nastasia's third album. Like those that came before (2000's Dogs, 2002's The Blackened Air), this record was produced by Steve Albini. Her band includes David Bowie's guitarist and a saw player who moonlights as a Cirque du Soleil clown. The drummer on Run to Ruin, Jim White, is a member of Dirty Three. Run to Ruin contains seven tracks. It was recorded in less than a week at the Black Box studio in France.
She sings with a loose, clear voice, tossing images out like breadcrumbs. The drums are live and brave, lunging in front of the acoustic guitar, thundering out to introduce cello swells, violin shrieks. The accordion bends like a cat's smile; folksongs shudder and jerk, turning dangerous.
The Selection of lyrics:
"While we talk
crumbs move to the edges
of your mouth
and fleck off.
off in all directions.
all I see: flying bits.
I begin counting."
The Inevitable Sounds-Like:
Gillian Welch in a thunderstorm with a rifle, with a wand.
Tom Waits and a gypsy caravan, stars circling above.
PJ Harvey in a cornfield: a fiddle in one hand, Emily Dickinson in the other.
the songs rise breathing.
they seethe: unanswered questions
blooming like rainclouds
The Track-by-Track Summary:
1. "We Never Talked"
It's morose and mad, with a wary violin that circles, eyes on the carrion birds.
2. "I Say That I Will Go"
We are driving. Calm streets. Sky. Electric guitar begins to growl, to hiss. Smoke rises. The guitar begins to bite - it snaps, licks its lips. Strings build, the sun fades. She arrives. It's the least she could do.
Sad and slow, the song stalls and breaks as Nastasia reaches for an unmelodic high-note. Drums clatter.
4. "You Her and Me"
A lovely song of loathing, the rush to the beach interrupted by paralysis. "Hate her like nobody knows": it's in the sound of the upright bass, the narrowed-eye march of the snare.
The truths are slow to emerge, blossoming in the slow repeat of acoustic guitar strum. When the drums arrive it is like a revelation.
6. "The Body"
Prettiness wilts, rots. Blood spills in a sunlit wood. "All await the eyes to cloud," and the storm carries the soul up up up.
7. "On Teasing"
A cautionary fairytale, a sea-story with laughter and death. Vivid, but it needs more energy: demands a spritelier spray of drums, the roar of the melody.
8. "While We Talk"
The slow-motion dream as things split, scatter, collapse.
The One-Sentence Summary:
Though not as breathtaking as last year's The Blackened Air, Run to Ruin tumbles from the mundane into the sublime, "beyond the burning tires / among the towering spires," past Heaven and Hell, through the green and the grey, toward hazy sunshine.