Editors' pick

Astra Via

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Editorial Review

ASTRA VIA
Album review: "Folie a Deux"
By Moira E. McLaughlin Friday, May 18, 2012

Olivia Mancini, formerly of the Washington Social Club, has been collaborating with Virginia Coalition’s Jarrett Nicolay on a new endeavor, Astra Via. The duo’s first EP, “Folie a Deux,” combines Mancini’s charming, blithe style with Nicolay’s roots-rock approach.

The album kicks off with “Fame,” a song that signifies a real shift from Mancini’s previous work, which was thick with backup harmonies and cute melodic instrumentation. It’s also a departure from Nicolay’s sparse and mellow 2010 solo album. The rock-and-roll song “Fame” features a warm electric guitar and heavy rhythm that pounds throughout. The loud bass line takes on a life of its own as it carries the song forward, even confiscating the spotlight from the vocal line, a unique premise for the bass. Similarly, the solo guitar tastefully drops in here and there to add another melodic dimension. The result is exciting and dynamic.

The real magic happens when Nicolay and Mancini harmonize, adding an emotional depth. On “Push/Pull,” the two sound like one instrument, following each other precisely through the ebb and flow of the music. It’s a special sound.

“Folie a Deux” combines songwriting prowess, sensitivity and rock-and-roll, and it takes these two musicians to new musical heights.