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Aural Pleasure Review

Nicolette Good: 'Monarch'

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For some people, vibe is enough. Give them a pretty voice and some warm texture to surround it and they're good. Others demand hooks. The former are going to very happy with Good's debut full-length. It's a spacious-sounding album, so sweet and pastoral you can almost hear the rustling of pines in the soft summer breeze. But it can pass you by just as easily, dissipating in the morning light like a dream. In that sense, it's an album that rewards additional listens, allowing the shimmering understated, country-folk arrangements and gentle melodies to unfold their subtle elegance. At first blush it's a tad featureless, lacking the hooks and/or choruses to anchor your attention. This is mediated by some particularly well-crafted lyrics and vocals with lithe doe-like grace, recalling at times Beth Orton. Good confesses on the plaintive ambling ode "The Road" that "I really should've known that man that comes from Texas is sure to roam," and on "Hurricane Caroline" draws a powerful portrait of a young girl who would "piss away the night with chocolate wine and Adderall," comically noting, "It's a fine line between a good time and a family brawl." Good writes some beautiful songs and can tell a story. Even though Monarch has no rock/country gristle where the road meets the gravel, it only needs patient attention to be fully appreciated.

★★★ ½ (out of 5 stars)

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