Paulina Cassidy: Lost in Oz

Having established herself with a style that mixes ethereal, faerie-inspired vocals and rhythmic, edge-of-ambient drifts, Paulina Cassidy switches gears and takes the yellow brick road into a dreampop/synthpop space on the quite enjoyable Lost In Oz. Most of the tracks here are underscored with a thumping bass drum counting off  a club-music cadence. I have to admit I could have done with less of that, but it’s a minor consideration when everything else is just blissful and fun, demanding that you  play it at volume. Cassidy takes hold immediately with the boppy beat of “Cyclone” and on into the world-flavored title track. Great percussion fuels this one, along with xylophone-style chimes running the melody. “Dance of the Scarecrow” is about as infectious as the tracks come here, that bass drum a vital heartbeat over a repeating keyboard phrase. There’s something intriguingly mysterious about its tone, and very old-world. It’s hard to explain without hearing it. As cool as the beats and sound sources are on Lost in Oz, they’re here serving the big draw, which is Cassidy’s voice. Ranging from ghostly whispers to banshee cries and often invoking the spirit of Kate Bush, the vocals here come dressed quite like chants, intricately layered to create a unique showcase instrument. (Check out “The Great and Powerful Oz” to hear it at its smokiest dream-whisper, calling to you through a mystical haze and psychedelia-worthy synth.) In with all this come moments of straightforward instrumental goodness, too. “Poppyseed” is a quiet contemplation on keys, accented with a tapping beat and pleasant strings in the background. The utterly charming “Kiss of the Good Witch” takes under a minute to spin its scene  in piano and strings.

Cassidy hits her theme well on this disc. The music here is light and a little magical, even trippy in spots. There’s a playfulness running through much of it, which somehow just feels quite Oz-like. I tend to prefer Lost in Oz in a mix as opposed to always going straight through it (though it only takes 58 minutes to do so). I quite enjoy the sudden boost of energy and spirit that hits when one of these tracks comes up. Very much worth checking out.

Available at Paulina Cassidy’s web site.

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