Dusted Reviews

Yann Tiersen & Shannon Wright - Yann Tiersen & Shannon Wright

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Yann Tiersen & Shannon Wright

Album: Yann Tiersen & Shannon Wright

Label: Vicious Circle

Review date: Feb. 6, 2005

You might not have Yann Tiersen’s name on ready recall, but you’ve got him to thank for a large slice of the charm in Jean-Paul Jeunet’s Amelie. ‘Twas his chimey score that neutralized the director’s Keane-kid creepiness and filled in the dewey-eyed charm. Does he work similar magic on this unlikeliest of musical yin-yangs, in collaboration with mumbling mopestress Shannon Wright? Whatever happened, it was fated to be interesting.

Much like her obvious comrade-in-pathos Chan “Cat Power” Marshall, Wright slides down emotional razor blades with rare discipline, but her language contains no direct translation for “joy.” Padded by Tiersen’s sighing accordions, there’s not a lot of room between the lines, either. Tiersen’s notes flutter and glide like moths trapped in an attic, but he can’t lend Wright’s narrators the same whimsical grace he broke off for Amelie, Nino and pals. The disc soars out of every tunnel with Wright firmly planted at the controls. Seldom has a record been simultaneously so ornate and desolate.

“You bring me courage,” Wright murmurs unconvincingly on “Dragon Fly,” a tribute to a fresh love, “to keep my eyes open wide.” The song’s eyes stare glassily indeed, although it’s rendered closer to Tiersen’s mode than the rest. Wright’s music has never dealt directly with pain and fear, but with the terror of internal emptiness. It’s not quite solipsism – it’s the feeling you get when you’re summoned outward and wonder how you’re going to communicate, hampered by self-awareness that compounds the most mundane neuroses. Elsewhere, she sings “I can’t explain / The path is newly paved… I found someone to live for,” and the surface optimism only highlights the sad resignation in the voice (if “highlight,” with its day-glo connotations, is a word that can be used in company with Wright’s non-stop sleet and drizzle). Tiersen painted sparkling footprints for Jeunet’s good-hearted protags, but to Wright’s interpersonally crippled romantics, he grants no such salvation.

So, established that this is, first and last, a Shannon Wright record, and that Tiersen’s input doesn’t significantly alter its tenor, it should be said that it’s the most complex, rewarding kickshaw in Wright’s bleak canon, and is likely to be the most enduring. She’s honed a penchant for glory without excess that’s eluded her more versatile neighbors. Her music is at its most dour when her characters strive for hope, but she’s made herself at home in her terrain – I mean, look, she’s bossing Yann Tiersen around. One grating misstep (“When You Sleep,” a bloodless shout-along that sounds like a PJ Harvey throwaway) is the exception that proves the rule.

By Emerson Dameron

Read More

View all articles by Emerson Dameron

Find out more about Vicious Circle

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.