Ida 

Heart Like a River

Ida's first release since 2001's The Braille Night packs a bit more positivity than devout fans may be used to. But don't worry -- the emotion is still melodramatic enough to make you weep. "Late Blues" wouldn't be out of place among David Sylvian's late-'90s jazzy solo work, and "The Details" sounds like Joni Mitchell guesting on Talk Talk's Spirit of Eden. But it's the three-song suite near River's end that really crystallizes how well Ida's three songwriters and core players have come to reflect each other. Karla Schickele's "Honeyslide" is an ecstatic morning-after ode punctuated by Sgt. Pepper-style strings. And when Elizabeth Mitchell uses her deepest register on "Written on My Face," she echoes Schickele's alto but drops momentarily into a breathless whisper as she sings I know, I know who you are/You still fill me up with stars, and it's clear that not only is she still in love with her lover, she's also in love with her band. Ida's semi-ambient, semi-prog folk has been honed to a dazzling edge.

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