There’s a haunting stillness to Electric Ursa, the new album from Kentucky singer/songwriter Joan Shelley. Some of that has to do with her voice: gentle and masterfully-controlled, it has the same effect as a bedtime story told in low tones — soothing, comforting, peaceful and warm. Even when the words she sings are sad — and, occasionally, they are — she sings like someone who can see the light behind the clouds. It’s perfectly paired with the album’s soft, pastoral instrumentation: distant guitars that seem wreathed in mist, slowly-pirouetting banjo, piano that arrives gentle as snowfall. The combined effect is breathtaking in its beauty: lovely, graceful songs that glide and swoop like far-off birds.
[Electric Ursa will be available on September 30 from No Quarter Records.]