Azita How Will You?

How Will You? is a spooky kind of pop record from Chicago's Azita, featuring ace players who blend into the shadows so that light falls on their captivating leader. The former Scissor Girl with a flair for the theatrical corrals members of Isotope 217, Tortoise and Bonnie "Prince" Billy collaborator Emmett Kelly to propel her latest songs but leads the charge herself with gorgeous piano work. With full command of her gritty, serpentine voice, Azita resembles an understated Patti Smith, while her arrangements most often hint at the epic pop of the Beatles. The latter's influence appears often, notably in the relative bounce of songs like "I'm Happy," or even the trad-jazz workout of "Things Gone Wrong." Somewhat anomalous, these tunes play at cheeriness on an otherwise moody, introspective record, whose engagement mostly lies in the conviction of Azita's weary but impassioned singing. (Drag City)