Amilia K. Spicer – Wow and Flutter
Amilia K. Spicer has impressed many since her debut and each successive album has only further refined her talents and carried her to higher and higher levels. Her earlier music has been featured on a number of high profile cable television shows like “Roswell”, “Party of Five”, and “Dawson’s Creek” and there’s little wonder why. Each of the songs on Wow and Flutter has an evocative musical treatment never lacking for cinematic imagination and much of her songwriting has a strong storytelling aspect far outstripping offerings from this genre. Many performers are unfortunately reliant on invoking the past directly – Spicer never does. These songs reference past/traditional forms, but Spicer imbues them with a sense of life and experience lived that relying too heavily on the form’s tropes restricts. Pouring new wine into old bottles isn’t as easy as it sounds. Recordings artists and songwriters have to bring a distinctive sense of self to these works that shapes them in different, unexpected ways.
“Fill Me Up” is an excellent pick for the album’s first single and the longing she communicates through her voice will move longtime and new listeners alike. She does a fantastic job of incorporating blues and folk influences into her songwriting without ever sounding too beholden to the style and the distinct spin of those particular efforts is one of the things further separating her from the pack. “Harlan” is one of the best acoustic guitar driven songs on the album and manages to bring together some light country music influences into her Americana sound. There’s some truly memorable, skyward-aimed vocal harmonies alongside a dramatic marriage of guitar and piano that makes “This Town” stand out, but the added element of solid storytelling is something taking it to another level. She has a truly literary quality in her best songwriting that never overreaches for effect.
Some might hear a little blues in “Lightning”, even a little gospel, but there are definitely qualities of epic folk-pop that you can discern from its arrangement. Nothing is ever overwrought, however, and Spicer’s singing follows the same path. Her exquisite attention to phrasing brings each song on the album up to a level that perhaps wouldn’t reach without her talents, but these songs have the qualities needed for them to stand up for years to come. “Train Wreck” has a nicely stately, evolving arrangement that the players allow to breathe and moves with undeniable grace. Confidence doesn’t always come across with chest beating and loud voices but, sometimes, a gently striding authority. Spicer sounds certain of her voice and makes you believe her too. The fragile beauty of “Windchill” suggests its title quite well and Spicer provides another probing look into the struggles of a human heart in every day life. The mood spins in a different way on the song “Down to the Bone”. Spicer tears down her approach to pure essentials and builds it around acoustic guitar and piano. Harmonies have always been a distinguishing facet of her music and this song is no exception with its luminous vocal arrangement. The penultimate track “What I’m Saying” builds from a muted acoustic guitar beginning into an inexorable march that never gets too heavy, but has an impressive gravitas. “What I’m Saying” is a wonderfully put together song with a low-key opening that transitions into something much more urgent and driving by the song’s conclusion. “Shine” shows a different side to Spicer’s musical personality that’s only been hinted at in earlier songs. Wow and Flutter is full of jolting little turns that makes it one of the year’s most satisfying efforts.
9 out of 10 stars