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Lael Neale – Acquainted with Night (Sub Pop)

Lael Neale
23 February 2021

The mesmerizing intimacy of Lael Neale’s no-frills music feels like a visit with an eccentric friend. Her stark tunes belong to the time-honored tradition of confessional folk mavericks, but the sound Neale creates is memorably distinctive. The Virginia-bred artist accompanies her gentle voice with an Omnichord, a small electronic instrument that suggests a funeral-parlor organ, or a haunted-house movie soundtrack. While that might seem at first like a gimmicky affectation, it’s not. Acquainted with Night is a lovely meditation on loneliness and hope, balancing the spooky longing of “Every Star Shivers in the Dark” with the tender optimism of “Some Sunny Day.” Idiosyncratic soliloquies aside, Neale has crafted deceptively sturdy pop songs, worthy of cover versions, though it’s hard to imagine anyone else matching her quietly unsettling emotional power.