Elisa Thorn's rapturous Hue invites investigation

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      Elisa Thorn
      Hue (Independent)

      Harpist Elisa Thorn doesn’t exactly play against type on Hue: her instrument’s standard repertoire tends toward shimmering timbres and delicately beautiful melodies, both of which abound here.

      The word that comes to mind is rapturous: Thorn’s captivating music is easy to apprehend, yet possessed of an emotional strength that invites repeated investigation.

      Upright bassist James Meger and drummer Justin Devries sometimes tilt the balance toward jazz—especially on “Night Song”, which suggests that Thorn shares pianist Chick Corea’s Spanish heart. Elsewhere, though, the music is harder to classify, unless it’s emblematic of what could be an emerging genre all on its own: smart, contemplative, progressive music made by (mostly) female-fronted ensembles.

      “Reds” certainly points that way. Initially driven by an insistent, almost mechanical rhythm, the tune pivots between a pair of enigmatic chords before taking flight into billowing arpeggiated clouds—after which we’re delivered into an extended passage of sunny-Sunday-afternoon loveliness.

      What’s most intriguing about Hue, however, is that the music gives only half the picture. Thorn composed the 32-minute mini-album as part of The Painting Project, a multimedia venture in which she’ll play to projected images of her father Bruce Thorn’s abstract-impressionist paintings.

      With these as vibrant and evocative as the younger Thorn’s music, the collaboration—which debuts with a January 14 CD launch at the China Cloud (524 Main Street)—already looks like a winner.