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The quieter Shana Cleveland grows, the more powerful her music becomes. As leader of the groovy California band La Luz, she excels at understated psychedelia. On her latest solo album, the strategy is similar, with late-night chord changes and serene vocals setting the mood. But the entrancing Manzanita deepens the dream state, trading La Luz’s haunted-house organ for delicate acoustic guitars and eerie pedal steel. Cleveland’s songs embrace the intensity of country life (“The wasps are crawling in our rooms / Everything is blindingly in bloom”), ponder the weirdness of pregnancy (“When you wake up in the night / I’m lying next to you”) and confront the terrors of parenthood (“Look at that beautiful babe / Out in the grass on a hot summer’s day / Wandering over to a rattlesnake”), all the while casting a gently unsettling spell. If you believe in strange magic, pleasures abound.
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