"I believe that life is stronger than death," Dalia Faitelson declares with affecting simplicity midway through Powered by Life. The weighty thoughts come out hopeful in the end ("I believe that smiling is contagious ... I believe in starting a new chapter"), though it's often bittersweet in musing about the big mystery of existence. The affair as a whole goes much the same way: there's a kaleidoscopic whirl of emotions from bleakness to love and hope here, and her expressive singing conveys them all with the most tasteful kind of understatement.
Faitelson's Losen Records debut comes a few years after the low-key chamber/lounge of While the World Sleeps (Self Produced, 2014). Life hasn't always been happy in the meantime, and so the result shows a similar range of worldly tones just as wide as the range of feelings. Tasteful cello and elegant piano complement the odd coffeehouse strum or touch of Spanish flavor from Faitelson's quiet acoustic guitar. The amorphous songs drift in the same manner as her impressionistic lyrics; it comes across as a sort of stream-of-consciousness diary without any particular structure or rhyme, putting her unassuming jazzy croon at the center to evoke whatever's on her mind.
In this case the main thing on her mind is a tragic loss, a major personal experience that shapes the recording without actually dragging it down. The themes may be weighty, but the performance is intimate as a cozy fireside chat. Individual instruments stick to shadings more than prominent heads, the uncluttered arrangements leave plenty of open space to drift, and the music manages to insistently find beauty alongside the sadness. It would be all too easy to mope and dwell on what's lost, but Faitelson chooses to respond with an appreciation for life instead. Powered by Life and its listeners all come out that much more fortunate for it.
Track Listing: My Inner Storage Room; Out of the Black; Covered Up in Bed; I Believe In; Cut Ourselves Some Slack; Make a Wish; Eye of the Dawn; Destiny Made a Mistake.
Personnel: Dalia Faitelson: vocal, guitars; Thomas Clausen: piano, keys; Soma Allpass: cello; Anders Provis: drums; Fredrik Damsgaard: bass; Ayi Solomon: percussion.
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