Samara Lubelski 

Parallel Suns

Casual listeners might initially be tempted to confine Samara Lubelski's music to the category of "freak folk," but the compositions on her fourth album prove she's not about making oddball shit just to sound weird.

New York City-based multi-instrumentalist Lubelski has played with such acts as the Sonora Pine, Hall of Fame, and Thurston Moore, and has engineered recordings by the Fiery Furnaces and Ted Leo. The neo-psychedelic compositions of her solo work have the focus and clarity to rise above trendy categorization, whether they are spritely like "Taste the Candy" or stately such as "Ego Blossoms." Even the instrumental "Meeting of the Sun" holds together beautifully, with its heady intertwining melodies on organ and harpsichord. But it's on elegant songs such as "Have You Seen the Colors" and "Snowy Meadows II" that Lubelski exercises her warm, breathy purr, which has drawn comparisons to Vashti Bunyan and Anne Briggs. To these ears, her music has much in common with former Dream Syndicate bassist and underrated solo artist Kendra Smith.

In addition to the usual rock instruments, Lubelski fills her lush tunes with bells, tambourines, sitar, electric piano, synthesizers, and violin, on which she plays especially haunting multi-tracked melodies on "Born from the Tree." It's heavenly, ethereal, and a little mind-bending. In fact, there's a vaguely medieval undertone, as well as a slightly disorienting mood, in the arrangements on this album that give it the kaleidoscopic feel, if not the essence, of Love's classic album Forever Changes. Really, it's that good.

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