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CD Review: Tonight 

click to enlarge Perrotta, Tonight, 2010, Independent.
  • Perrotta, Tonight, 2010, Independent.

I never cease to be sucked into Sarah Perotta's magnetic, musical field, whether it's the heavenly ambiance from her early outfit Outloud Dreamer, her recent solo work, or this—a true rock album by the band that bears her name. She has the remarkable ability to harness the refined, from her banner choice of players to her lilting, indelible vocal work, creating an aural mirage in which the listener may wander deliriously. Tonight is a departure from 2008's The Well (Independent) and its piano-based fare: This time, she's on Rhodes, Moog, Wurlitzer, MicroKorg, and Hammond alongside guitarist/vocalist Johnny Wang, drummer Will Olsen, and returning bass legend Tony Levin.

Recorded at Woodstock's Applehead Studio and produced by Christopher Bittner, the 12-track record sets off with an exquisite title song that seems heavily influenced by Iceland's Sigur Ros; percussion and keys slow as molasses and the singer's chanting dreamy and delicate. The music dramatically switches sonic gears between up-beat cuts such as "Someone Like You," "Conquer Me," and "Walls" and lulling, Cowboy Junkies-tinged tracks like "Fractured," showing the leader's refusal to be squeezed into a box. She touches upon eclectic grounds set by other idiosyncratic female pop pianists/vocalists of the past several decades, yet what sets her apart here is her knack for creating a driving, complex rock band sound. She's not just another singer-songwriter romanticist who plays piano with backing players; nonetheless, it's still the emotional luxury of her vocal instrument that makes the whole package shine. www.perrottamusic.com.

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  • Sharon Nichols reviews Perrotta's Tonight.

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