By JT | Other Music NYC / Newsletter

Larkin Grimm's previous album, The Last Tree, was a genuine surprise -- it appeared without warning from the Secret Eye label and courted my attention with its careful blend of traditional folk and ambient abstraction. It was an album begging to be heard by more than the select few bespectacled indie buyers and their privileged circle of sycophants, so it comes as no shock that a larger label has snapped her up for this third outing. That the label is Michael Gira's Young God gives even more credibility to her cause. Here is a character who doesn't do things lightly and has also opted to co-produce, assuring that all Larkin's music achieves the fidelity it sometimes required. You see the songs were always a latent force in her music; they might have been shrouded in noise and abstraction at times, but her unique, powerful voice carried genuine old-tyme songs, something which is explored in even more depth on Parplar. There are sure to be those of us who lament the loss of Larkin's more experimental side, but her mischievous edge is still present, just tamed slightly to allow those soul-grabbing songs to power forth. There's an almost old-West theme going on here, and rather than sink into the nu-folk parody of many of her peers, Larkin has made it entirely her own lending a humor and restless charm to her songwriting. Anyone who has managed to catch her in a live situation will already know of her ineffable skill in this area, but here she has finally captured it on record. "Ride That Cyclone" sounds as if Larkin is re-treating the Bonanza score with a feminine charm, while "Dominican Rum" is a captivatingly melancholy hoedown, and these themes pop up again and again throughout the record. Whether tempered with bubbling electronics ("Parplar") or dropped into the Joanna Newsom patented plucked pixie-pop framework ("My Justine"), we never seem too far from the back porch, the mountains ever in the distance and the sound of rushing water in the background. This is music for desolate, untouched lands and Larkin seems totally at home pitching her tent there.