The whispered count in that signals the start of “You’ll Be Fine,” doesn’t drop any hints as to what kind of voice you’re about to hear.  Although when cradled by the soft notes of an acoustic guitar, the one that emerges seconds into the most recent self-titled record from Alberta Cross feels about as pure as a morning sky.  Anchored by a vocal that stands as a beguiling mix of ethereal beauty and steely reserve, its peaceful tenor is followed by an exhilarating gust of movement from the brass horn led track, “Ghost of Santa Fe.”  With a nimble, fast moving melody and dizzying chorus, it is the polar opposite of the stillness that “You’ll Be Fine” captures so eloquently.  Yet these early variations in mood fit together seamlessly, aligning the two arrangements like bookends that foreshadow the richness and duality of the collection that follows.  At once raw, bustling, tender and relaxed, Petter Ericson Stakee’s voice leads the way throughout, instilling songs like “Western State,” “Easy Street” and “Heavy Words,” with a mesmerizing polish and depth.

With a flood of soulful harmony and percussive rhythms, the music that forms the record can feel almost symphonic when it takes flight.  As the only remaining permanent member of the Brooklyn based group, Stakee performs here with a full band, though there is a leanness to his writing and arranging that is keenly felt.  Setting quieter moments alongside the full, thundering tone of everything from drums to strings to brass, the songs come alive.  And while those additions are often building in a way that feels powerful and towering, the same flourishes are at their most gentle and warm in “Shadow of Mine.”  Fading in and out like the sun, the horns here are pristine and crisp, providing new layers to an already thrilling melody.  Although Stakee transforms different elements of his style throughout the record, constructing an entirely different climate altogether on  “Beneath My Love.”  Trading the softness of “Shadow of Mine,” for a haunting guitar, the songs hypnotic mood grows more and more present thanks to a string section that makes the calmly sung line, “And I don’t even give a damn,” hit with the impact of a storm.  And whether they find themselves in the eye of the hurricane or somewhere just beyond it, the latest album from Alberta Cross shines bright.




Article: Caitlin Phillips


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