Fleeting moments of whimsy and hope in a blues world.
There is something wonderfully unassuming about Allegra Krieger’s new album. “Precious Thing” is at its core, a very rootsy homegrown album. The acoustic guitar and Allegra’s voice carry the majority of the work. I also love the concept of the album too and how it’s handled sonically. The idea is that each song is a fleeting moment captured in time. Each song feels like a slow-motion unravelling and it’s key to why the album works.
The album is never bleak but it has a mixture of light and bubbly fingerwork on the guitar or bass and slow glazed rumbles on synths or organs. The result is that the guitar elements often feel like a young free spirit, backed up at times by violin (“Take It In”) but the organs and extra layers of sound usually slow things down at the same time. A track like “Wake Me” works this beautifully as the two elements work at odds to feel like a slow-motion dream. Allegra’s heartfelt but unprocessed voice then adds a tangible emotive surprise to the music too. Her ability to flick up an octave and creak, whisper and hit the note like a country bumpkin going for an alternative rock career really works for these situations. This dream-like quality stays throughout the album at large and when the lyrics relate to specific moments in time, it sells the concept. A passing gaze at someone else on a train, saying goodbye to a loved one, religious trauma – they all feel like moments of clarity surrounded by the world at speed.
Elsewhere, tracks like “I Drank Wine” play with warm layered vocals but hazy chords that bend and veer slightly off the expected path with string bends or a nod to a psychedelic music chord progression. “The Circumstance” is a gorgeous acoustic ballad full of 70’s bells and whistles to give a warm folksy vibe. The album is definitely rooted in country music but Allegra’s penchant for doing unusual things keeps it from ever feeling truly a country record. That might be obscure string outros, bluesy – almost Fiona Apple-esque piano arrangements ala “Let Go” or more chamber music outpourings such as “No Machine”. It’s only in the stripped-back moments like closer “Walking” that the true country roots shine.
If anything, this album sits closer to someone like Laura Veirs in terms of style. Rustic, emotive, tightly woven and with plenty of artistic panache to make a mark without outstaying the welcome. Allegra Krieger might not be a name you’ll know too well now, but this is an album that’ll grow like wildfire through word of mouth. It excellently straddles and skews your country expectations and delivers something more like a chamber-folk cowgirl would create. It’s all the better and more fun for it too.
Recommended track: Taking It In
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