From the opening drops of black guitar color on “Velvet Painting” it’s hard to suppress that good old haunted feeling, the one that used to creep up your spine before Chan Marshall buried herself in Stax/Volt records. Alina Simone, born in the Ukraine and raised outside of Boston, nevertheless sounds determined to get her own thing going on Placelessness, from the clacking percussion on “Refugees” to the strumstick plucking on (not an R.E.M. cover) “Nightswimming”. Her familiar yet distinct pipes curl around minor chord melodies like smoke, and on the closer “Country of Two” prove as capable of carrying a full-on rock assault as they are of gnarled, noir indie folk. Besides placelessness, there’s a fearlessness in Simone’s approach to performing that comes through in every song. Songs like “Pacifica” and “Lonesome” are unabashedly dramatic, the latter opening with a bit of a capella, Simone’s voice trailing off in the dark, “By now everyone is drinking wine from paper cups”. Hey, there’s no shame in that.
Fifty Four Forty or Fight!