Rykarda Parasol 

Our Hearts First Meet

Rykarda Parasol is well versed in tragedy. As the daughter of a Holocaust survivor and a Swedish mother who obsesses about death, Parasol was practically born morbid. So on the San Francisco songwriter's debut album, Our Hearts First Meet — an extension of her 2003 EP Here She Comes — she can't help but lasso the listener into her haunted country theater. With inspiration from a brief time spent in Texas, the singer and her band build simple arrangements of piano and guitar to showcase her deep and affecting voice. No matter what comes out, there's an inclination to listen. She effortlessly harnesses the attitude of PJ Harvey, the magnetic power of Nico, and the whiskey-soaked swagger of Mark Lanegan in her lonesome tales of heartbreak. Yet it can seem a bit overwrought at times. In the best moments, like "Weeding Time," and "Texas Midnight Radio," Parasol's voice doesn't force emotion but moves with the same subtle ease of the music, while "Candy Gold," the most upbeat song on the album, induces uncontrollable swaying. She may be obsessed with the dark side, but on Our Hearts First Meet, that obsession makes everything seem more alive.

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