Alyson McNamara's 'Let Me Sleep' Makes for a Peaceful Dream
Published Jun 01, 2021Alyson McNamara is a singer-songwriter whose music could loosely be described as folk rock, but it hits more like shoegaze. The Toronto artist's third album, Let Me Sleep, is pure vibe, the kind of music that's more about mood-setting than storytelling. The album's accompanying videos have depicted scenes like drifting through an animated ocean while sleeping on a sofa and a caterpillar having a bubble party — visuals that match the sleepy, bong-ripping vibe of the tunes.
The record opens with the Neil Young-esque sway of "After Hours," which marries the patient groove of "On the Beach" with the fuzzy licks of "Cinnamon Girl." McNamara has a soft and beautiful voice that's more Feist-y than feisty; she doesn't enunciate much, and most of the lyrics get lost amidst the whispered, breathy exhalations.
McNamara, who performed guitar alongside Tokyo Police Club's Dave Monks on his most recent solo tour, touches on a few folksy configurations on Let Me Sleep: "Waiting" is a finger-picked acoustic ballad, and "I'm Right Here" and "It's Easy" are stripped-down piano laments. But she's best when settling into a cloudy-headed electric groove, as on the War on Drugs-in-slo-mo arpeggios of "Shutting Down" or the uncharacteristically sprightly "Got All Night." The latter song features playful lines like, "Take the road that winds around / All the pretty shops on Dundas West / I'm just around the corner from the Laser Quest / Can't miss the house, we call it Garbage World / I know it looks scary with the tarp at the front / But I assure you it's nice in my place at the top." It's one of the only times on Let Me Sleep that the lyrics stand out, providing alarmingly specific directions to what is presumably McNamara's house.
The back half of the 11-track album is loaded with ballads, which are unfailingly lovely but don't leave quite as much of an impression as the distorted electric guitars. Let Me Sleep appropriately enough, feels a bit like a sleep aid, and it makes for a peaceful dream. (Ghost Pepper Records)