Blackavar Blackavar

Despite the press release comparisons to artists like Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval, Laura Cartwright’s vocals don’t quite live up to these lofty expectations. Her quiet, but brash and rough-around-the-edges style never quite fits with the more delicate folk-y ambience of the instruments. Depending on the song, Cartwright tends to sound either as if she’s holding back or simply bored with her duty as vocalist. With such an un-engaging vocal performance, the struggle for Blackavar is definitely uphill. The backing tracks offer a gentle ambience with their soft guitar-driven melancholic feel, and this imbues them with a distinctly coffee house folk aesthetic. And of course, the aforementioned often off-key vocals only serve to strengthen this comparison. Blackavar are mellow, never picking up the tempo beyond the introspective ballads that fill up the disc. Packaged with album art that appears hand-drawn and somewhat reminiscent of high school, indie DIY projects, the band don’t exactly appear to be misrepresenting themselves — instead only not quite living up to their potential. Clocking in at barely 30 minutes, "Drown the Town” is probably the strongest cut on this release. Ultimately disappointing — even for the folk-y set. (Transsiberian)