Tiny Vipers is the project of Seattle’s Jesy Fortino; she is the possessor of one incredible voice, wavering between high notes, and those from the depths of her diaphragm. Her new album, Life on Earth, checks in precisely where she left us the last time around, filled with careful guitar strumming, soft-spoken piano chords, and, of course, her astonishing vocals.
In this instance, the artwork on the cover pretty much seems to some up the album as a whole. There is a girl in the middle of a dense shadowy hillside; we’ll let the girl play the role of Fortino. Off in the distance, you can barely make out the band name and record title. Rising flames play the role of Jesy’s voice. For the most part, the album has a lot of absent space musically, which really ties in the statement of the artwork and the music.
No one will take away Fortino’s voice, and its clear quality. The way she wavers between pitch and tone with songs like “Development” is something very few other musicians can imitate, though recent folk movements have seen many try their best. It’s soothing quality is clearly something many listeners will find appealing, though perhaps more in the midnight hour than the morning drive to work as they prepare for the day. Overall, it has a cleansing quality for one’s ear, removing beats and shuddering guitars in trade for a naked guitar and vocal approach. Therein lies the drawback to such an album. Placing the beauty of voice aside, there is no real pacing to the effort here, which allows for a lot of the songs to slowly drift into one another, making for one collage of extreme vocal exploration with very little else.
If in your search for music you seek out minimal instrumentation, slow pacing and a strong vocal presence, then this is precisely the album you have been looking for in all these years. No one will be able to mimic this effort, as Tiny Vipers has few peers that can rise to meet her in this place. Still, a lack of pacing makes for a drawn out listening affair, which may be just what some of us need at the end of the day.
Tiny Vipers will be playing with Castanets at Mohawk on Friday, July 24th.