Amilia K. Spicer – Wow and Flutter
Wow and Flutter marks a new peak for a singer/songwriter who weaves musical magic unlike virtually any performer on the scene regardless of genre. Her mastery of the necessary elements to make a great song doesn’t involve cheating the listener or taking shortcuts for effect. Instead, there’s a blood and guts feel to her lyrical contributions – she might traffic in traditional sounds and instrumentation, but the songwriting rings out with genuine conviction and a sense of the autobiographical that never risks obscurity. Instead, she touches on events and passages through life that many of us can relate to in often poetic language that never risks pretentious. This is her greatest album yet and the exponential growth that she’s shown since her debut marks her as one of style’s foremost practitioners. Wow and Flutter raises the bar high for future releases.
She often moves from a more traditional Americana approach to something resembling heavy duty pop singer/songwriter material with a rustic touch. The first song “Fill Me Up” leans more to the traditional side of her sound but it never sounds retro. It’s probably the most hard-charging song on the album in terms of tempo, but Spicer is a performer who wisely never opts for pushing those elements too hard. She knows how to convey the song’s emotions without ever playing too hard on familiar tropes or pop song qualities. “Harlan” has an unusual musical twist to begin things before it settles into a familiar groove. It has a slowly developing intensity that only reaches a certain point that’s aided, especially, by some fantastic and resonant bass playing. The dramatic parts of her best songwriting come out in “This Town” and it has an intensely satisfying effect on her target audience. She knows just when to push the emotional envelope and when to temper things in just the right way. The layered singing on “Shotgun” has the light touch necessary for listeners to really focus on the words and the multiple voicing that makes the singing work is sweet and impossible to dislike. It is one of the album’s most perfectly wrought creations, in some respect, and shares the same focus on never wasting a word or note personifying the album’s best songs.
“Shake It Off” has an ambling bluesy feel with just the right amount of bounce. Spicer slinks through with an evocative vocal melody and hits the arrangement in all the right places to make it best. She’s able to shave things down to the barest of essentials on the appropriately titled song “Down to the Bone” and it is one of the most emotional engaging tracks on the release and has a suggestion of the personal that goes beyond many of the album’s other tracks. One of the most ethereal offerings on Wow and Flutter, “Wild Horses”, has a lightly windswept quality that invokes all of the best cinematic qualities of her music. Few other songs on Wow and Flutter, however, bring out those elements as strongly as the conclusion “Shine”. It brings all of the best Americana parts of her work with a grander pop vision than we’ve heard thus far and definitely reaches for more sonic heights than earlier tracks. It’s an appropriately emphatic song to close this splendid release.
9 out of 10 stars