Annette Farrington has a voice of some sort of Celtic princess. It’s not a stretch to picture her out on some misty moor in a flowing dress, singing to spirits at twilight. Her voice has that beautifully timeless quality to it, and it gives these things to Azure Wonder & Lust. With its use of drum loops and electronic sensibilities, Farrington’s music would seem out of place in the medieval countryside, but like a great fantasy novel, this album makes for good escapist fun.
With song titles such as “Magic” and “Exotica”, Farrington’s music has an obviously intentional ethereal feel. The production by Anthony J. Resta often tries the exploit the more atmospheric qualities of Azure Wonder & Lust by creating overwrought soundscapes of synthesizers and electronic effects, like on the vocal manipulations present on “Rhapsody”, but for the most part, Resta’s production is dead on, allowing the otherworldly quality of Farrington’s voice to shine. The various genres Farrington draws on, from the world music beats of “Black Man’s Daughter” to the seductive trip-hop touches of “Might Not Be Here” may not be the most masterfully done, but Farrington is competent enough to pull them off. She has enough confidence in her music and voice to make the listener pay attention, even when an individual song may feel a bit forced.
Despite the artifice involved her music, Farrington tends to transcend the dreaminess of it with her honesty and optimism, never resorting to any sort of gothic motifs in her lyrics. Her language is primarily simple, although she can write a bit abstractly. “I believe we are what we are through our choices” she sings simply on “Dive”. While the slightly preachy lyrics of songs like “Viva” (“Viva love for the human race” she sings), there is always something deeply positive about all of Farrington’s songs, celebrating love and beauty above all.
Although this affirmative spirit permeates all of Azure Wonder & Lust, the songs that are a bit darker in tone tend to stand out, from the swirls of “I Don’t Want It” to the longing of “Let the World Go Away”. In songs like this, Farrington abandons the attempt to share a universal message and opens her heart to tell a personal tale. These songs are more effective in this way, and Azure Wonder & Lust would have benefited if more songs shared in that.
Unfortunately, not enough of Azure Wonder & Lust does so, and the album can be faulted for being a bit too likeable. While predominantly upbeat tone makes it a pleasure to listen to, there is only a few times where the album makes listeners truly stop and take notice of the music. Farrington’s voice is undeniably gorgeous, but artificiality of a lot of the music gives Azure Wonder & Lust a regrettable coldness. Farrington does draw listeners in, but attention tends to waver the more the album is listened to. There’s not enough going on for it to sustain itself over repeated listens. The album does make good light-hearted background music, but that isn’t enough to make it thoughtful and moving.
Annette Farrington has enough to share, though, in the end, to make Azure Wonder & Lust worth it. It’s far from perfect, but her voice has enough expressiveness and what she is trying to say is hopeful. Azure Wonder & Lust is pretty, and like that fantasy novel, even if you forget it in the end, it was fun while it lasted.
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