Chloe March “Blood-Red Spark” Reviewed at Textura

“Chloë March’s many strengths are on full display throughout her fourth full-length Blood-Red Spark. On the album’s twelve tracks, her first-rate songwriting skills are well-accounted for, as is the English artist’s talent for crafting compelling instrumental backdrops. But as we’ve noted in the past, it’s March’s singing that is her music’s strongest selling-point: she’s got one of those one-in-a-million voices that could make even the most pedestrian lyric feel like cause for rapture. That being said, as integral as her vocalizing is to the album’s impact, Blood-Red Spark would hardly merit a recommendation if the songs and arrangements weren’t compelling, too.

March shares with a small number of other female vocalists—Anne Garner, Trish Keenan, Elizabeth Fraser, Tracey Thorn, and Susanna Wallumrød come to mind—a vocal delivery that’s never less than alluring. Luminous, sensual, seductive—all such epithets apply to March’s singing; whether presented as an unadorned lead or as harmonizing choir, her voice is the key that unlocks an intimate soundworld straddling dream-pop, trip-hop, and electronica. For the record, Blood-Red Spark was wholly created by March at her home studio, with a gritty electric guitar turn by Geoff Bennett on “So (Together)” the album’s sole guest contribution.

The resplendent, deeply atmospheric character of March’s music is in place the moment “Orchardie” inaugurates the album, her sultry, multi-tracked vocalizations complemented by a shimmering electronic arrangement. Lyrically many songs center on relationships, love, and intimacy, with songs such as “No Game” (“That’s enough of the reveries / I want to be real, right now”), “Let It All In” (“Let it all in / This is where the heart begins”), and the title track (“Your good heart leads me through the dark / Everything around you a shimmer of blood-red spark”) exemplifying March’s desire for emotional directness and connection.

Another listener might conceivably complain that the songs hew too much to a common tempo, but to these ears the slower BPM allows March’s voice to work its magic most fully. While her electronica side moves to the fore during “Mercury Trick” and “Signal Flow,” she offsets the music’s chilly synthetic timbres with the warm humanity of her voice. Nowhere is its effect more ravishing than in “Calypso Wants” where her weave of lead vocal and harmonies achieves an effect that’s positively celestial. Here and elsewhere, the effect of her languorous delivery is enhanced by the luxuriant backings she fashioned for the songs.

- Textura

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