Aimee Wilson CD Musically and Lyrically Ambiguous

Unto Us the Sun
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Aimee Wilson’s Unto Us the Sun is a clever play on words as a title; as an album it feels like music in search of a fronting play or movie. Her material is nouveau medieval-meets-introspective folk. Think Loreena McKennitt meets Suzanne Vega and Tori Amos. It’s very dramatic like McKennitt, though Wilson’s band and backup singers don’t have as much going on as McKennit’s solid troopers, nor does Wilson have McKennitt’s vocal chops. (In fact, way too many of her vocals are awash in aural soup that renders them indistinct.) Like Vega and Amos, many of the lyrics exude an ecumenical spirituality and like them, what it’s all supposed to mean is more clear in Wilson’s mind than it is to the listener. “Suri,” for instance has been the name a Muslim ruler, but also an Indian clan, a flower, and poet. I’m guessing Wilson intended to reference the poet, but the lyrics sound more like it’s  a goddess.   At its best, Wilson’s music sounds like the kind of compositions Robert Einhorn scores for silent movies; at its most pretentious it’s what one sees on PBS with middle-aged audiences nodding and fawning, though they’ve actually not a clue what any of it means.

My comments are a bit tough because this is, indeed, the sort of album one loves or hates. It’s also the kind that harsher critics than I call the folk equivalent of rock operas, though the label I’d use is New Age. Like most music in that genre, it’s inoffensive even when it’s over-the-top, and a lot of it has a soothing quality. I can’t say any of it grabbed me. As I said in my opening remarks, it felt like music that needed another context to bring it to life. If your cup of tea is chamomile, you might find more enjoyment than I.  My brew of choice is strong coffee. –Rob Weir

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