In Roses

In Roses

On their sophomore album, Gem Club take their delicately wrought chamber pop into more expansive territory with the aid of arranger/producer Minna Choi. Anyone who connected with the brooding intimacy and austere grace of the Boston trio’s earlier efforts will find those qualities more fully developed this time out. Singer/songwriter/pianist Christopher Barnes continues to trace the contours of heartache with a lyrical touch that both relishes and transcends suffering. His angelic falsetto gains greater definition from the vocal harmonies of Ieva Berberian, lending his oblique accounts of longing and loss more immediacy and weight. In Roses has a classical suite-like quality as it moves from a luminous overture (“[Nowhere]”) to a billowing, elegiac conclusion (“Polly”). In between, Barnes slowly sails through impressionistic waters in “Michael,” takes on subtle shades in bluesiness in “Idea for Strings,” and skirts eddies of dissonance in “Speech of Foxes.” The string orchestrations are evocative and eloquent, bringing out the songs' majestic pathos with fine gradations of aural color.

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