Paulina Cassidy doesn’t waste time. On her new release, Girl in a Moonbeam Cloak, she floats 18 tracks through your head in the course of 42 minutes. Seems like that wouldn’t be enough time to do things right, or too much to do effectively, but Cassidy’s half-whispered dreamscapes don’t need a lot of time to work their way into your mind and soul. The allure here is the way Cassidy weaves together her mist-shrouded romance, tinged in spots with a bit of neo-classical influence, and lilting, keening vocals that call to mind Loreena McKennit, sans lyrics. Tracks like “We Are” and “A Gathering of Ghosts” stand on a potent piano foundation and let Cassidy’s spirit helpers of sound course around them. “4:44 a.m.” is beautifully sad, a song borne of the kind of heartbreak that keeps you from sleeping. Clocking in at under 90 seconds, it’s like a final sad expression before surrender. The simple repetition of a scale feels like indecision in its simplicity. Oddly affecting for so short a thought. Cassidy also has a real feel for creating haunted landscapes. “Peppermint Fox Bats” carves right up to the edge of weird discomfort with a suspense-movie-theme piano melody repeating itself on and off while wispy, processed voices haunt the background. “Somewhere in the Night” sounds like lost cries echoing back toward the real world from across the void. Superb use of echo in this, and touches of half-heard words up the sense of the arcane. But Girl in a Moonbeam Cloak isn’t all keening and wailing. Cassidy mixes up the flow a couple of times and actually rolls in an upbeat direction. “Skyrunning” thumps along with a bit of an electro-pop-style beat, played off against floaty vocals. “Secret Passage” is bright, particularly against the foggy backdrop of many of the other tracks. Beneath the sound, a sequencer-like pulse keeps the beat. Once again, Ms. Cassidy offers up a work that’s enchanting in several senses of the word, a little weird and a lot of lovely, short enough to enjoy in a quick sitting, and very well worth going back to over and over. She’s rapidly becoming one of my preferred artists.
Available from Paulina Cassidy’s web site.