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Sex & Dying (Dine Alone Records)
Marin Patenaude’s third LP, Sex & Dying, is primarily roots music, but so gorgeously textured it doesn’t initially register as such. The music ebbs and flows in an aching and gorgeously ethereal way, acknowledging pain, but also beauty.
Paul Rigby—the best known of Patenaude’s side players and the album’s co-producer—on acoustic guitar no doubt has something to do with the sonic riches at hand. But it’s hard to say, as the individual instruments tend to disappear into the whole, as do individual themes and lyrics.
There’s some dark drama that stands out—primarily on “Nameless,” one of the slightly more rocking songs on the album, thanks largely to the rockabilly snare of drummer and regular Patenaude collaborator John Raham, who engineered and mixed the album; or the grimly topical “Fentanyl Waltz” (“nobody’s safe/not even you”). There are a few other striking lyrical images, as in the title track, wherein Patenaude says she’d prefer “love and living” to “sex and dying,” with vocals evoking Ingenue-era k.d. lang (or Margo Timmins, namechecked as a comparison point on Patenaude’s press release). But almost everything else is subordinate to the overall mood, which is also the album’s weakness, in that from song-to-song, it gets kind of samey.
Still, it’s soothing headphones music for an exhausted night, or perhaps background music for an intimate gathering, and will doubtlessly reward repeat listening.