14 February, 2014 in Music Reviews
Barbara Trentalange returns with her first album in five years, and doesn’t disappoint with the soulful blues-grunge of ‘Same Illusion’
he febrile nature of Seattle’s music scene is legendary. Indeed, who could question the fertility of talent of an area that’s borne Mudhoney, Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden? Trentalange is the not-too-secret pseudonym of former Spyglass member Barbara Trentalange, a Seattle songwriter ripe in the tradition of caustic seed that the city of grunge has made its name.
Staccato piano-driven opener Without Your Love drips with the sort of thorny sensuality that Tori Amos and Florence Welch have made their name on, drawing you closer so that you might be crushed with a look. It’s a theme that is felt keenly throughout Same Illusion, one that’s given a garage-grunge illumination by the dirty, Jamie Hince-style guitar licks of songs such as the title track and Uh Huh, which lays bare the swamp-blues influence of PJ Harvey, nodding towards the title of Harvey’s superb album Uh Huh Her.
It’s not just the seedier moments that draw the attention though, as downtempo numbers like In Your Grace have a soulful, Esther Phillips-like quality that begs for further listening. There’s also a real appreciation for the pop sensibility, with songs like Reconnected and Freedom possessing a subtle catchiness that’ll see their pulsating rhythms seeking out your attention weeks after you’ve last heard them.
All the same, it’s in the blues-grunge moments that Trentalange really excels. They will have you reaching for your headphones to traipse through these dank winter months.
Verdict: A slice of blues-grunge peppered with a fine pop sensibility