ALBUM REVIEW: Shira E plugs in, causes ‘Sparks’

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First Posted: 7/15/2013

Shira E, a Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, artist, and Pushcart Prize-nominated poet, has been particularly busy this year. She has independently released her self-produced first full-length studio album, “Shouts & Sparks.” Shira E has shared stages – and a fanbase – with CocoRosie, tUnE-yArDs, and Ani DiFranco in over a decade of independent music making, and has recently kicked off her first solo tour, fanning the flame of “Shouts & Sparks” westward across the country.

The previously acoustic artist has plugged in, navigating new musical terrain with a sampler and her trusty Casio. Shira E’s electronic explorations veer between generations of Animal Collective’s textured sonic adventures and the grounded swellings of Cat Power’s stripped-down electro experiments in 2012’s “Sun.” Shira E layers chants, tinged with the ancient, until she’s fashioned a stack of stunning vocals crafted into a contemporary beat.

“Myth” loops hauntingly gorgeous vocals, propelling by poetic verses that spin into deep, bellowy soul before bubbling up to a catchy melody. The lyric’s venture between visceral and tender – “You wrestled me down, down to the ground / and you kissed both of my eyes / said if you can’t see, what I see in you / you must be blind” – allowing dynamic images to rise and fall with the pulse of the lyric, the breath of the synth.

“Shotgun Wedding” pounds with unshakeable rhythm. Striking cries ride a reggae bounce through age-old trauma, resurfacing with a beautifully primal, present sound. Like sunbeams peeking through the blinds, the playful keys and effervescent spirit of “Miracle Box” bring to mind a lo-fi Regina Spektor. Among the bouquet of iconic artists shimmering in Shira E’s “Shouts & Sparks” is Kate Bush, particularly in the evocation of modern mythology.

“Shouts & Sparks” leads the listener like an electric wood nymph, breezing through dense musical forests of organic vocals, rattling the rings on tree trunks, and leaving a trail of blooming narrative and the flickering echo of Shira E’s voice.

‘Shouts & Sparks’ Shira E Rating: W W W W

-Kait Burrier, Weekender Correspondent