Cortney Tidwell, Don’t Let Stars Keep Us Tangled Up

Amelia Raitt

By Amelia Raitt

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Both Cortney Tidwell's grandfather and mother performed at the Grand Ole Opry, but you'd be hard-pressed to hear it in her debut album. More often than not, Tidwell is busy crafting the sorts of sonic landscapes that would be at home on a ’80s 4AD record. Opener, “Eyes Are at the Billions,” for example, pits an at-first hesitant guitar figure against a backdrop of bells until the song bursts forth into widescreen with five devastating drum hits and what can only be described as her backing band's Mogwai moment.

Liz Fraser goes Southern Gothic

It's a harbinger of things to come. Tidwell makes her way through the album's opening six songs like a Southern Gothic Liz Fraser. The single, “The Missing Link” is the obvious touchstone, featuring a simple, driving beat and a backing that allows Tidwell to flex her cords and earn the Bjork comparisons that she so often receives, while “I Do Not Notice” tears up her voice into megabytes and drops them into place over warm, pulsing synths and little else.

In the latter-half of the record, things are less striking, but there are moments of brilliance — namely “Society,” which may just be the most traditional piece on the record. A duet featuring Kurt Wagner of Lambchop, the song sounds a bit like an outtake from Is a Woman. Underlying the smooth groove is an uneasy tension, highlighted by the instrumental bridge's fluttering brass and raindrops of piano.