Katie Von Schleicher sweetens the disappointment in her lyrics with honeyed melodies | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Katie Von Schleicher sweetens the disappointment in her lyrics with honeyed melodies

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There’s an elliptical quality to the lyrics on Katie Von Schleicher’s terrific full-length debut, Shitty Songs (Ba Da Bing). She assays various strains of romantic and personal disconnect, using words to underscore frayed connections and muddied communication, but her honeyed, soulful vocals and the rich arrangements that surround them fill out the otherwise moody pictures with dazzling color. Her adventurous production recalls some of the experiments David Bowie conducted with Brian Eno during his Berlin years, but replaces their urban vibe with something more rustic and folksy. On “Paranoia” Von Schleicher sounds utterly twisted up in uncertainty, singing “Once I get it, it’s already gone” to convey a debilitating mistrust of her own instincts. Her lilting melodic phrases, distinguished by fluid swoops and leaps, echo that feeling of instability while plying the listener with deeply pleasurable, indelible hooks and layers of warming, electronically manipulated piano patterns over a churning, bass-heavy groove. “Life’s a Lie” is sung by a narrator with a sneaking sense that she’s a fraud, but the reality is little more than a lack of confidence exacting destruction on a potential love. Other songs have a dramatically different complexion: on the breathy “Soon” she immediately implores “Come on, we have a complicated love” over a washed-out, cycling beat and busted piano riff, and on “Mary” she hovers on a simple, clean electric-guitar arpeggio and nothing else.   v

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