Shannon Wright – Providence

4 out of 5

Label: Vicious Circle

Produced by: David Chalmin (recorded, mixed by)

Whatever words I could apply about Shannon Wright’s Providence are only going to be too typical: mysterious; murky; brooding; majestic; ominous; gorgeous; moving.  And those words are not going to come close to being enough.

A voice and a resonant piano: Providence is Wright’s sound stripped down to a powerful minimum, translating her minor-key compositions into variations on a particular twirl of keys, with her contemplative thoughts sung atop in a haunted and emotive voice.  Sometimes there seems to be hope peeking through Wright’s thoughts, but it’s often dragged down by That Which is Left Behind.  Providence isn’t a pity party, though; Wright’s words are open-ended enough to intrigue and fascinate, dosed with just the right amount of doubt to trigger our own thoughts.

Providence often has a slow and gentle pace, best displayed by the push and pull restraint of the title track, but tracks often find their way to relative peaks of great power – These Present Arms, Close the Door – and are countered by tracks of subtle strength.  The minimalist approach is somewhat hard to sustain at length, though, and after the instrumental Providence, the final two tracks feel somewhat like refrains from previous songs.  Still, the relative short length of the disc prevents this from being an outright issue, and Wright’s forceful but controlled playing style and vocal presence keep the album immersive throughout.