‘Springtime Carnivore’: Staring at the Sky

unnamedSpringtime Carnivore is a solo project by Greta Morgan, AKA the pianist and vocalist of the Hush Sound and Gold Motel. Her self-titled debut album offers a lush soundscape of organic melodies and propels her into the sweet spot somewhere between the Cardigans’ Nina Persson and Lana Del Rey. Springtime Carnivore capitalizes on the expertise of producer Richard Swift (Black Keys, the Shins, Foxygen) and the eclecticism of Autumn Tone Records to move away from her pop-rock roots and into a more mature indie synth-pop mood. With warm ambient instrumentals and soaring melancholic vocals, Springtime Carnivore feels like a summer afternoon spent staring aimlessly at the sky.

Tracks like “Name on a Matchbook” and “Sun Went Black” mix muddy vocals with an exposed bass line to modernize the early nineties polyphonic feel. While these songs feel great as summer road trip tunes, the muffled vocals limit Morgan’s emotive capacity.

“Other Side of the Boundary”, on the other hand,  marks the album’s shift from casual pop to a more thoughtful wistfulness. With a controlled waver echoing an early Stevie Nicks, Morgan shows off her lyricism in this intimate acoustic number with lines like, “I’m the cruel joke in your horoscope, but your constellation’s clear now. You’ve got nothing to fear.” “Other Side of the Boundary” is a fulcrum tune in which exposed vocals and stripped down instrumentation allow Morgan’s raw talent and emotion to seep through.

The second half of the album moves into an ambient downtempo groove with “Two Scars” and finishes with the wonderful “Find a New Game”. These more melodic tunes validate the oft-drawn comparison to the Zombies, with whom Springtime Carnivore toured last year, and offer a counterpoint to the pop-orientation of her singles. Using these chilled out melodies, coupled with traces of the Hollywood Sadcore movement that’s audible in several tracks, Springtime Carnivore pitches herself into a rare group of musical heavyweights including Cat Power, Arab Strap, and Lana Del Rey.

Offering twelve new tracks with an instrumental bookend, Greta Morgan displays her artistic growth with an album that wouldn’t feel out of place as the soundtrack to a Zach Braff film. Springtime Carnivore excels in its moodier numbers and positions Morgan as a singer/songwriter to watch.