AUBURN – Game Of Faith

Scarlet 2019

album cover

Game Of Faith

Looking through time and finding the rhyme: anguished Americana as a means of survival.

Although it may look like a metaphor, there’s a genuine game attached to this album, with each song assigned a card character – yet the listener can safely assume they all refer to Liz Lenten who’s been leading AUBURN for two decades now. If the band’s previous work, "Love & Promises" – a telling title – reflected her happiness and anxiety, its successor comes full of heartbreak. A personal turmoil and a temporary loss of voice define the ensemble’s sixth record not only lyrically but also in sonic terms: Lenten’s new approach is arranged around her half-whisper delivery which seems to suggest a certain extent of intimacy – still, vulnerability doesn’t belong here, as Liz has chosen delicate defiance over full-on self-pity.

It’s obvious on the stark, vocals-and-strum, blues “I Drank” that’s followed by the flamenco-flavored “Prosecco-Fuelled Profiles” or on the equally riveting Catalan travelogue “Misshapen Fruit” – the most focused instance of the singer-songwriter’s craft, while the slightly feisty “Spoke In The Wheel” is lifted to the hope level thanks to Thomm Jutz’s filigree guitar. With an element of vaudeville to the alluringly smoky “Bad Girl, Good Woman” and exotic air to “Trinidad” where country meets calypso, Liz’s numbers run through styles and places, yet the hot and humid “Happy Nowhere” will fail to locate her erstwhile bliss.

Not everything is hidden in plain view here, however, the titular track’s arresting purr of a welcome turning out to be a trap whose unhurried twang wouldn’t let a player leave until the pained prayer “His Arms” dissolves the soulful shimmer behind “I Don’t Love Him” – but not before the quietly rumbling licks propel ‘Float To Blue” away from the darkness. It’s rather cathartic, this brave veneer over “Like I Do” – protective, yet somewhat exposing Lenten’s vulnerability even more. After such an album, there’s no other way than to get healed and emerge scarred if not scared.


May 17, 2019

Category(s): Reviews
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