By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
Auset is a bit of a mystery at least at first. Judging by the austere, sketchy-on-identifying-details packaging of last year's self-titled mini-album, it's nearly impossible to tell that Auset is both the name of a band and its namesake singer-songwriter (who's actually married to Brad Sarno, the other half of Auset the band). But the lack of background and pretense allows a clean-slate approach, which meshes well with the gentle folk and Americana on the disc. The EP's six songs rarely have tempos beyond that of a slow heartbeat, befitting the kind of languor and contemplation that surround these arrangements. Opening track "Waterloo" is a standout, a song about illness, recovery and rebirth that proves that it's impossible to write a bad song with "Waterloo" in the title (just ask ABBA and the Kinks). Its simple refrain and bare, first-person narration leave plenty of room for the listener to fill in the blanks.
Sarno's pedal steel and guitar leads make up much of the atmosphere on Auset. Acoustic guitar and some spare, tasteful accompaniment cloak each song, which suits Auset's unassuming voice; what she lacks in range she makes up for in self-assurance, and she sounds at home and at peace in her songs. However, it may be that sense of peace and comfort that allows this record to wash over the listener; neither Auset's lyrics nor her voice leave much of an impression by the album's end. Any hint of emotion in her voice would be welcome and just a step outside traditional rhythms and modes would be a godsend.
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