Seela Something Happened

On the phone from her home in Austin, Texas, it's quickly clear why remarkable singer/songwriter Seela named her second album Something Happened - and equally clear that she's not telling what. "I like to be ambiguous," she says, "and leave enough room for someone to make it their own. I don't like to listen to someone tell me, 'This is what happened, and this is how I felt about it, and you should feel that way just hearing me talk about it.'" Ambiguous, yes, but the quest for answers is not what draws you in to her remarkable album. Having worked through a more straightforward, stripped down, and "less ambiguous" debut, Seela has found her voice, a combination of whispered delicacy, sexy growl and an inner yell that floats under the surface, but is more of an implicit threat than a overt weapon. The album draws from its influences second-hand, absorbing both its traditional source material, and that of its interpreters: country from Neil Young; punk and feminism from Patti Smith; and a mistrust of easy answers from her own songwriting and performing experience. Early on, she had a more confessional approach, Seela explains: "I'd be singing stuff that's frankly no one's business. It's like peeling your skin off in front of a roomful of strangers who are paying to watch." This time out, Seela projects the emotion without drawing a map, and with the assistance of producer Brian Beattie, successfully navigates a minefield of potential cliches. By the end of the record, you know what the something was that happened - you discovered a new fave. (New Improved Music)