Thalia Zedek has pared away her sound since the heyday of Come, whose primal squall will be getting a brief workout when she reunites with Chris Brokaw for a brief tour in honor of Eleven:Eleven‘s 20th. But Zedek has a way of making a piano and violin drone sound as heavy as half a dozen distorted guitars, especially when it’s accompanied by her own shattered wail. Via, her first album in five years, is a touch more plugged-in than 2008′s Liars and Prayers: “Walk Away” starts the album in the hushed vein of the Velvet Underground’s “Sunday Morning,” but “Lucky One” builds to an guitar coda as ecstatic and meticulous as Television’s “Venus.”
The steady thump of “Winning Hand” puts Zedek on familiar ground, but her lyrics have grown more transparent over the years, or at least translucent: She’s hardly a confessional songwriter, but the emotions shine through, refracted but recognizable. Listening to Via is like hearing someone pour their heart out in a language you don’t speak, one that becomes clearer each time through.