The Austin Chronicle

Phases and Stages

Texas platters

Reviewed by Audra Schroeder, January 20, 2006, Music

Jana Hunter

Blank Unstaring Heirs of Doom (Gnomonsong)

Thanks to Devendra Banhart signing her to his Gnomonsong label, Jana Hunter probably gets lumped into the whole beard scene, only there are no psychedelic throwbacks on the 27-year-old Austinite's debut. Recorded on four-track, Hunter channels spirits from some 1920s farmhouse, tape hiss allowing for paranoia and hallucination. Opener "All the Best Wishes" sounds like it could be a doo-wop number if it weren't floating in the ether. The singer's vocals sound haunted and faraway, which makes her ear-whispered declaration that "When we were together, I knew it was bad weather" spine-tingling. "The Earth Has No Skin" is an a capella death march, while the plodding, repetitive plucking of "Christmas" pins down Hunter's sinister demand to "bring back the guns." The hand claps of "Laughing & Crying" and twang of "Farm, Ca." are upbeat, shining with accompanying strings. Toward the end, she brings back the doom with "Heatseeker's Safety Den," a dusty parlor song ("Precarious, oh precarious/Nefarious few, they'll bury us"). Hunter sounds older than her years, and she just might be.


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