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Sophie Hunger: The Danger of Light

Reviewed By: Lisa Torem
Label: Two Gentlemen
Format: CD

It seems like Sophie Hunger is always up to something cool. This last year she produced a one-man show 'Bob Dylan - Be Part of My Dream' in Paris, reprised it for the Montreal Jazz Festival and recorded her fourth album, 'The Danger of Light', with producer Adam Samuels, and guests Josh Klinghoffer (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Nathaniel Walcott (Bright Eyes) and Steven Nistor (Danger Mouse.)

Hunger's life has not been hum drum. This daughter of a Swiss diplomat is well-travelled and musically savvy. Her musical tastes range from classical to jazz, though it's easy to hear strains of related genres in the cracks of her well-structured refrains. An ambitious soul, she created her 2006 debut, 'Sketches by the Sea', in her living room. Follow ups, 2008's 'Monday's Ghost' and 2010's '1983' soared on her homeland's charts.

'Rerevolution' find the singer's undulating vocals framed by whirling percussion and signature muted horns. Her kingly piano chords trickle beneath her pleas.

'Souldier' is singularly mysterious and minimalistic. This piano-driven drama allows her melodic sense to really writhe. Meditative and satisfying, it conveys a solid longing and recalls the distinct writing of Fiona Apple and the earnestness of the late, great Laura Nyro.

'LikeLikeLike' is a Ricki Lee Jones-ish jaunt which segues into a kind of instrumental burlesque. The call and response between the chunky keys and horn is revelatory.

Old timey 'Das Neve', like 'Heharun', allows Hunger to switch lingo. The result is bold, brash and even eerie. 'Can You See Me?' is the most dreamy and poetic: "I'll never be tall like the walls in the mountains." The bluesy ballad includes the richest samples of her vocal talent. The background music churns like a weathered kaliope in the final stretch. The polyglot excels in 'Z'Lied vor Freiheitsstatue' too, where the masterful piano reigns and where she searches endlessly for answers.

'Holy Hells' is also exploratory, but more of a cyclone musically. Hunger's stacatto-infused rendering is packed with suspense.

'The Fallen' is set against a marvellous beat and evokes a youthful spirit. This song truly suspends your disbelief. 'Perpetrator' dovetails between a tango and a torch song. 'Take a Turn' is arranged simply and thoughtfully with acoustic guitar and harmonica. It's gripping all the same.

Hunger's voice goes from angelic to racy on 'The Danger of Light', while creating memorable images and that is what makes this album especially cool.

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