[12 July 2007]
If given just a hasty listen, the full-length debut from Athens, GA singer-songwriter Amanda Kapousouz (who once performed as a busker on New York City subway platforms, her stage name a reference to the tip cup which adorned her violin case) might seem a stark and simple affair. The record is most certainly somber in its mood and Kapousouz often relies on ethereal violin figures, looped in repetition to build her personal wall of sound. Yet, as is often true, the devil or—in the case of Kapousouz—the brilliance is in such details. Through the use of the violin and other delicately played instruments, Kapousouz and her collaborators originate consistently lush, atmospheric soundscapes which radiate a quiet strength. And though her songs often begin with an air of emotional detachment, the repetition Kapousouz employs affords her the opportunity to generate genuine emotional climaxes that never feel cheaply gained or contrived, either building intensity little by little through slight alterations of the song’s arrangement or by driving home the sentiment with her lovely, resonant vocals. Kapousouz provides a beautiful tone painting on album opener “Speak or Spill Down” as cascading melodic notes give life to the words, “Courage come down, courage come down / I say speak or spill down.” Other particularly significant moments come on the transcendent “Liar and the Thief”, “Going Numb” (which steps up the pace and intricacy of string parts) and “Until the Dust”, possibly the album’s best offering. With the latter, on a bed of sublime strings and keys, Kapousouz turns in a memorable vocal performance, dripping with resolve in the face of heartache and disappointment. Liar and the Thief proves Kapousouz a performer with much to offer fans of subtly poignant indie pop.