Chamber muzak 

Emily Reo CD Release Party
with Dark Sea of Awareness, Levek, Fireflies
9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18, Will's Pub, 407-898-5070

Local singer Emily Reo is well known and liked around these parts, and deservedly so: Her passion and support for local music is admirable and her willingness to ably bang, pluck or strum damn near anything that can mimic the sounds in her mind makes her live performances fascinating.

Translated onto an album, however, something is lost. Room-filling, one-woman choirs of gentle scales and delicate femininity turn shrill. Digitally manipulated Mazzy Star mood-coos pound mercilessly against doorless walls of echo and suffocation, lost in a chamber without an end or a purpose.

With her full-length solo album, Minha Gatinha, Reo drowns otherwise wintry, circadian instrumentation with indecipherable angelic arias. On occasion, the result is transcendent, especially on the latter half of the album. "I'll Never Live by the Coast" and "Checkered Blanket" hit exactly the right balance of somber beauty and homesick blues. Reo rides the spare chords expertly, even minimally (as on "New Grass"); on "Metal on Your Skin," the effect can even be classified as ghoulish in the best way.

But too much of Minha Gatinha's runtime is exhausted on heavily filtered, Gregorian-lite chants that serve no purpose other than attempted prettiness ("No Don't" or "Tidal Mouth," which are essentially the same song). Reo possesses a wonderful voice, rich and full, and a gift for melodic songwriting that stays with you, but it means nothing if she can't be heard. Once she finds her way out of that echo chamber, Orlando could have another viable singer-songwriter on its hands.


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