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Quick Hits: Dana Sipos / Cameron Knowler

Last updated on October 19, 2021

The Astral Plane Dana Sipos. Sipos’ alt-folk offers an unusual look at the world. The Astral Plane is gentle and yet immediate; comforting but bent askew. These tunes don’t offer direct takes on love or relationships; where they do, the ideas are heavily couched in metaphors of the natural world (body, earth, sky).

Her folk tunes pack many unusual musical flourishes in addition to unusual topical and lyrical concerns; lightly jazzy work pops up against hand percussion in “Light In Moon On.” “A Crude Likeness” has subtly ominous Tom Waits-ian vibes, “Light Around the Body” is a warped folk/country track, “Skinny Legs” is a requiem for a grandmother in a doo-wop style. “Greenbelt” is here for you if you just want a fingerpicked folk song; it still talks about the woods, magic, curses, and the greenbelt. The Astral Plane is a unique and fascinating tour of a distinctive songwriter’s work as she hits her stride. Highly recommended.

Places of Consequence – Cameron Knowler. Exploratory, evocative acoustic guitar soundscapes that range from wistful, formal guitar solo pieces (opener “I”m an Old Cowhand,” “Don Bishop A”) to ambient minimalist (“Supertone Biome,” “Atelier de Stein”) to folky/bluegrass-inflected work (“Done Gone,” “Cat Spring”) and pieces that defy classification (“Kuyina,” “Motoring Addiction”).

Throughout it all runs an elegant, dignified sense of melody; Knowler has a deep respect for the music he is evoking, recreating, and responding to. The results are a beautiful, diverse, attention-holding record. The 1-2 punch of the desolate “Second Train to Alamogordo” and the sprightly “Lone Prairie” is a late-album surprise to watch for. Highly recommended.