A mysterious bassline comes slicing through the silence in “Skylights,” the first of eleven tracks that will wrap their warm sonic arms around us in Lauren Crosby’s I Said Take Me to the Water, the third official album from the Maine-born singer/songwriter. There’s no pomp, nor any excess, in this introductory string-led serenade, and as we slip into the jazzy swing of “You Don’t Need a Rose,” it becomes quite clear that the overarching theme of Crosby’s latest record is simplicity, in all of its cut and dry glory. The velvet-soft vocal navigates the ridges in the rhythm with a commanding swagger, and even as the understated menace of the melodic “Tak City” replaces the pensive poetry of its predecessor, the music flows with a progressive nuance normally found in concept albums exclusively.
“Something Strange” opens with an aching verse from Crosby that sets the stage for the staggering string grooves that will soon follow it. “Why Are You Blue?” picks up the tempo a bit, in a familiar style similar to that of “Oogum Boogum,” and carves out an extra big hook that is hard to get out of your head once you’ve encountered it for the first time. Crosby spits out a fierce lead vocal in the ethereal “I Work, I Work, I Work” that serves to bridge the first act in I Said Take Me to the Water with the second in a way that nothing else could have. In more ways than one, the tracks spill into each other effortlessly, as movements in an elegant symphony would.
The rustic tones in “Dead River Road” are likely the most textured you’ll hear in Crosby’s new LP, but they’re given a run for their money in the lovely ode to New England that is “Madison, Maine,” one of my favorite songs that Lauren Crosby has ever recorded. Neither of these two tracks have the zeal that the springy “Is That OK” does (think Feist meets Captain Ledge Band for this one), but that doesn’t stop this song from emitting a juggernaut groove that will keep listeners coming back to I Said Take Me to the Water time and time again. If her multidimensional skillset wasn’t the biggest buzz in the underground before this release, my gut says that it’s going to be in the summer following its debut.
“Sunshine in My Soul” incorporates some psychedelic influences in its impartation of a lush lyrical harmony, but it still keeps the focus transfixed on Crosby’s classy crooning. I Said Take Me to the Water comes to a poignant conclusion with “That Picture,” which despite running only a little over three minutes in total length has an endlessly evocative echo in its verse that will stay implanted in the hearts of those who can relate to its undyingly emotional narrative long after the music has ceased to play. In the short time that I’ve had since first getting my hands on a copy of this LP, I’ve grown more and more addicted to its tracklist with each and every spin I’ve given it, and even though Lauren Crosby isn’t yet the household name that she could easily become with a bit more attention from the mainstream press, she’s giving up a performance in her latest record that is as good – if not better – than anything currently topping the Billboard charts.