Its lofty title an excellent indication of the elegant wordplay and literary gloss within, A Bower in the Arsacides is the debut LP from Montreal singer-songwriter, Tamara Sandor. The album opens with “Daisy,” a flutter of sparse handclaps, gaunt and hollow, that inevitably end up lost in a swirl of liquid honey vocal harmonies, the tepid timbre of upright bass and the twinkle of acoustic guitar.

Sandor’s vocals are one part charming antiquity and one part macabre avant-garde as she slides deftly in and out of falsetto in jagged jumps. Rather than clutter the album with a flood of instruments, Sandor has applied the concept of negative space to make the album seem sprawling and cavernous, using what’s missing just as much as what’s present. That’s not to say the instrumentation is pallid or boring, however, as she employs everything from kalimba to mandolin with a sense of purpose and aplomb.

While it’s sure to draw lazy comparisons to modern-folk songstresses like Laura Marling, the album is more rooted in ancient rambling folk and exquisite pastoral poetry. It’s an exceptionally restrained album and a stunning debut, the work of an artiste who has learned that less is more, and that understated beauty shines brighter than pop glitz and blaring neon glam.

By Nick Laugher


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