Sweet Ghosts: Certain TruthsBy Linda Ray
A madwoman offers a curse in the form of a prayer in the opening song of this debut album. The snow-cold alienation in which she abides haunts the song, "Detroit," as it limns remnants of the once-great city's abandoned culture. In its extended outro, Katherine Byrne's voice haunts itself with tracks fading in and out, vocals and shadows of vocals floating under and above, lilting but never fragile.
The stunning, rarely predictable harmonies that define Certain Truths surface at :36 and rarely let up. Ryan Alfred's is voice is milky, Byrnes' diaphanous; his like aspen bark, hers like polished cherry. The voices lap and overlap each other, with Alfred's grounding Byrnes' occasionally butterfly-like flight, which occasionally flirts with Broadway or a minaret at sundown.
Byrnes plays piano and keys, and Alfred supplies guitar, bass and synthesizers. Contributors are familiar to Tucson fans: Fen Ikner, formerly of Seashell Radio; Aaron Emery and Sam Eagon of Ronstadt Generations; Dylan DeRobertis of the Colin Shook Trio; and Ryan David Green of Ryanhood.
Alfred has played bass with Calexico', but the influence surfaces only seldom in rhythms, strums and a bit of vibraphone. The songs and arrangements are more downtown, or even uptown, than desert-like --as sophisticated as the harmonies.