Gemma Ray: Plaintively Sultry

British singer Gemma Ray specializes in playful but smoky rock balladry that brings to mind the work of Phil Spector, Dusty Springfield and even the slipperier likes of Tom Waits and PJ Harvey. Without sounding overwrought or arch on her new album — titled Light Out, Zoltar! — Ray finds a winning way to warmly blend a lot of disparate pop styles.

Thursday's Pick

Song: "Snuck a Peek"

Artist: Gemma Ray

CD: Lights Out, Zoltar!

Genre: Rock

Gemma Ray i i

In "Snuck a Peek," Gemma Ray finds a winning way to warmly blend a lot of disparate pop styles. courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption courtesy of the artist
Gemma Ray

In "Snuck a Peek," Gemma Ray finds a winning way to warmly blend a lot of disparate pop styles.

courtesy of the artist

One of the disc's most dramatic tracks, the plaintively sultry "Snuck a Peek" finds Ray's husky vocals set to an agile string section, quivering guitar effects and crystalline vibraphone, in a prettily askew arrangement that ebbs and flows sensuously behind every vocal move. The words distill despair into a stylish package: "You open your eyes into nothing now / You open up those arms and no one'll come / No one'll come running to you," she purrs, as if wandering through a bleak yet beautiful nightmare.

"Snuck a Peek" closes with swirling strings as a last repetition of the chorus glides into staggered layers of overdubbed voices that coo, "I snuck a peek, I snuck a peek, I snuck a peek." As her words fade out, she seems to drift over the strings as they spiral down to the center of the earth.

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Lights Out Zoltar!

Purchase Music

Purchase Featured Music

Album
Lights Out Zoltar!
Artist
Gemma Ray
Label
Bronzerat
Released
2009

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