Nearing her fiftieth birthday, Lisa Germano has no reason to shy away from the tough stuff. Not that she ever has: Looking back to her early-'90s singer-songwriter beginnings, you'll find the Indiana native tackling obsession, depression, addiction and death with a surprisingly straightforward and undaunted stoicism -- and no shortage of bitter humor. The contrast between her sly, incisive observations and the whispering, vulnerable naif's voice that sings them makes listening to Germano's songs as unsettling as watching precocious Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense. On her latest album -- brought to us by Michael Gira's Young God Records -- the singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist strips away the gauzy layers of production that have swathed her 4AD releases, favoring instead the sparse, organic arrangements familiar to Young God listeners. The simplicity of the settings allows Germano's wry, intensely human songs to shine sadly like the satiny side of a cheap, well-loved baby blanket.
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