Reading about Cortney Tidwell's history on paper, it is easy to come to basic and limited conclusions about how it is going to sound. Born in Nashville, grew up listening to Johnny Cash and Hank Williams, the daughter of musicians.


Before even picking up the disc itself, you think you've got a pretty clear idea of what to expect. After loading the CD into my CD-ROM drive for the first time, iTunes flashes up the tracks and their titles. I notice the genre label – ‘unclassifiable'. Am I about to be proven drastically wrong?


The short answer here is, yes. Appearances can be deadly and, in Cortney's case, dead wrong. Don't Let Stars Keep Us Tangled Up is a sonic collage constructed from such myriad influences that dissecting it is both futile and destructive. There's not a trace of Hank Williams to be found here.


Cortney Tidwell has a magical presence that seems to defy any kind of intellectual explanation. These songs are free and strangely ethereal and, as a result, their essence is difficult to capture. One of few things that can be said for certain is that a good part of this magic derives from her otherwordly vocals. Cortney channels the uniqueness of Björk with all the fragility of Vashti Bunyan and Joanna Newsom. I Do Not Notice demonstrates the manner in which she is not afraid to let her voice form the core of her songs. Indeed, it is largely this willingness that makes her music so adventurous and soaring.


Compairsons have been made to Liz Fraser and closing track The Tide certainly belies a very Cocteau Twins influence. Sweeping and yet quite minimalist in approach, this track relies heavily on synthesizer and the atmospheres it can create. This is another factor worth pointing out in regards to Cortney's music. She appears to have a heightened sensitivity for not simply musical composition but the aesthetic properties of sound in general. This gives her a great deal of power over the emotional impact her songs have and makes for an extremely dense and layered listening experience.


There are occasional shadows of Phil Elverum (Microphones, Mount Eerie) as she loops her own voice and countless other sounds and instruments to produce collages that resemble sound art moreso than contemporary music. Illegal is an interesting example. Constructed from a seemingly mismatched collection of vocal cuts, one simple keyboard loop and some minimal percussion, its whole is certainly greater than the sum of its parts.


There is plenty to be said about this album but very little that can capture its spirit. This is music that is prepared to take risks and doesn't insist on justifying itself every step of the way. Cortney Tidwell has proven that she is brave enough to experiment and explore and, as an artist, she is unclassifiable in the most genuine and exciting sense. Don't Let Stars Keep Us Tangled Up goes beyond fusing of styles into creation of brand new genres.

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