Baby (Dead Oceans)
Rating : NNn
When it comes to White Hinterland (aka Massachusetts songwriter Casey Dienel), it’s all about one thing: the dramatic voice that swoops and soars all over her impressive register. Those arresting vocals are front and centre on Dienel’s third album, which ties together indie trends and 90s R&B influences in a savvy embodiment of the current pop landscape.
One minute she’s channelling Fiona Apple with moody solo piano epics (Wait Until Dark, David), then getting her Beyoncé on in the next, trilling over glitchy beats. In the three years since her last release, Dienel taught herself studio skills in order to take the reins, and it shows in the clever production choices: first single Ring The Bell plays to her strengths, all fluttery Mariah vocals set to clattering percussion, while the punchy brass in White Noise is unexpected yet deliberate. The emphasis on texture and style can obscure Dienel’s storytelling, however: it all sounds so gorgeous, you sometimes forget to listen to what she’s actually trying to say.
Top track: Ring The Bell
White Hinterland plays the Garrison April 19.