After years of scrounging as an artist, Ali Beletic left New York City for the Sonoran Desert to find her own voice. "I went to get to know the wilderness there," she told NPR over email, "to drive muscle cars, ride motorcycles, explore adventures, work on large-scale sculptural works, get off the grid and start throwing vanguard parties." It was there, in one of North America's hottest places, that Beletic communed with the wild, mystical beast of rock 'n' roll, communing with its spirits and, amidst a trail of bleached skeletons, found stories that needed telling.
Beletic's debut album, Legends of These Lands Left to Live, takes its emotionally raw energy from the wells of transformation and mystery. At times, the record recalls Patti Smith's ragged and desperate punk, the Flat Duo Jets' animalistic rockabilly played super slow, or Cat Power's cigarette-chewing soul — yet, even with such high-profile reference points, Beletic holds her own. (Legends is the first stand-alone album for Lightning Records, a magazine/cassette-subscription label run by Beletic and Seth Olinsky, member of Akron/Family and Angels of Light, and who also produced the record.)
With three guitars playing a single-note riff over a stomping kick-drum, "Stone Fox" is a tall drink of water. Beletic's bluesy, drawled guitar and stuttered sense of rhythm shuffle around her words that curl smoke in dry heat.
"'Stone Fox was the last song I wrote for the record as a sort of reflective statement about exploring, about finding a rock 'n' roll feminine spirit, about the deep personal power of shapeshifting," Beletic wrote to NPR. "It's the idea of heading out into the unknown and what you find out beyond that point."
Legends of These Lands Left to Live is out June 17 on Lightning.