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Becky Stark, Lavender Diamond’s singer, is a perfectionist. Actually, to be more accurate, the whole band could fall under that category. Their warm up session was almost as long as their in-studio performance during which they performed their first two songs twice, to make sure they had the best take possible. Normally this would test the patience of a curious onlooker, but it all made sense when Stark sang. Celestial beings would stop and pay attention to this voice.
For those unfamiliar with Lavender Diamond, you may recognize Stark’s voice from The Decemberists’ album The Hazards of Love. That hauntingly beautiful voice filled the WERS studio with both warmth and sadness, catapulting her melodies into the stratosphere. After settling into their studio surroundings, Lavender Diamond began with the uncovered balladry of “Everybody’s Heart’s Breaking Now”. Stark, accompanied on piano by Steve Gregoropolous, slowly turned the song’s lullaby-like melody into a dreamy, star-gazing ballad with her voice gaining more power and more emotion with each passing verse. Lyrically, the song primarily revolves around the repetition of the song’s title in which Stark expertly injects different feelings into with each reiteration, recalling the legendary Spiritualized and their song “Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating In Space”.
Next up was the more poppy “I Don’t Recall”. Much like “Everybody’s Heart’s Breaking Now”, “I Don’t Recall” is a simple song that uses repetition to bring the listener into a relaxed and ethereal-like state. Ron Rege Jr. on drums and percussion and Jeff Rosenburg on bass did an excellent job of providing a solid rhythm for Stark to sing over. The lolloping piano gave the song a sense of subdued fun and it definitely stood out as a happier song in between the two slower numbers. However, with lyrics like “I know the world is new and what you lost lives on inside of you/And the love we shared is true, but it’s hard without you”, it never seems like Stark gets to join in on the fun.
The last song was “Come Home”, a somber song sung by Stark on an electric guitar, without the assistance of her bandmates. Again, one cannot underestimate how wonderful Stark’s voice is; she really carries the songs and adds that extra layer of emotional resonance that makes listening to Lavender Diamond a powerful experience. This final song had a more down to earth feel to it, created by Stark’s simple arrangement and performance, rather than the cosmic energy the studio version has.
Lavender Diamond are in the process of touring their first album since 2007’s Imagine Our Love. Titled Incorruptible Heart, the album is a wonderful dance through art pop with a strong sense of melody. Recalling Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval, Becky Stark has the kind of dreamy voice that could both break hearts and cure heartbreak and the music has that perfect country-inflection that makes it bounce and groove with the right amount of sadness and happiness.
Eager to be back together with her original band after a few years of working with a number of other artists (The Living Sisters, The Mystical Unionists, and, as mentioned previously, The Decemberists), Stark spoke enthusiastically about working with David Fridmann (The Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev) and the otherworldly events that transpired during recording. It’s evident that Stark and the rest of Lavender Diamond picked up on a powerful energy during the writing and recording of Incorruptible Heart – an energy that they bring to their live shows through powerful and moving performances.
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