Album review: "Bright and Vivid"
Kathryn Calder joined the New Pornographers in 2006, replacing singer Neko Case, whose alt-country solo career was beginning to take off. Calder didn't try to duplicate Case's twangy sound, and her latest solo album, "Bright and Vivid," doesn't even approach anything like the rampant pop of the New Pornographers.
Instead, Calder's gentle voice and light, lilting songs are reminiscent of the airy vibe of Beach House or Feist's laid-back coo. Her voice is both airy and powerful on the easygoing folk song "Turn a Light On," and she commands a mesmerizing high register on the dreamy "City of Sounds."
The album is full of such pretty, reflective tunes, but Calder occasionally lacks focus. The meandering six-minute "All the Things" could have been cut in half, dropping the underwater, amoebic intro in favor of the crisper, more structured ending. "Who Are You?" is both catchy and alluring, but its electro-dance sound overpowers Calder's voice and feels out of place against her otherwise sweet sound.
Still, even with a few such jarring moments, Calder shows she can preserve an identity separate from her more famous band.
--Catherine P. Lewis, Dec. 2, 2011