Shana Cleveland has released solo material in the past, and she's known as well, of course, for her leadership of the superb La Luz. That said, her new album, Night of the Worm Moon, out tomorrow on Hardly Art, is a remarkable record, and the sort of thing that succeeds whether a listener is a fan of her other band or not, and that's because this is just a great album.
While "Don't Let Me Sleep" and "In Another Realm" are, like many cuts here, elegant bits of contemplative folk rock, it's other compositions on this record, like the twang-y "Face of the Sun", that positively haunt. If La Luz owe huge debts to earlier surf rock pioneers, lots of the numbers here on Night of the Worm Moon reveal links to earlier waves of folk-y artists, or even masters of classical guitar. I say that because "Castle Milk" and "I'll Never Know" succeed as much due to Shana's breathy vocals as they do thanks to her prodigious skills on her instrument of choice. The wonderfully-titled "Invisible When The Sun Shines" is reminiscent of early Mazzy Star offerings, for those seeking a point of easy comparison, while the spry title cut recalls Shana's own first solo LP, as well as sort of a slowed-down version of what La Luz routinely cranks out. Still, this is a unique record, and one which, I want to stress, works very well whether you know anything about La Luz at all.
Night of the Worm Moon is a release that's full of lovely songs that hold back just enough to retain some mystery, Shana Cleveland here preferring a lighter touch than the one favored by La Luz. And it's significant that that approach doesn't render the songs here too down-tempo as the record feels light and airy, even as the numbers on this release linger in the brain, like dreams barely half-remembered.
Night of the Worm Moon is out tomorrow via Hardly Art.
More details on Shana Cleveland via her official Facebook page.
[Photo: Eleanor Petry]