Christina Rosenvinge Continental 62

In the past year, a neutered Cat Power grabbed more mainstream headlines than ever and sad girl Swedes like El Perrro Del Mar and Frida Hyvönen nabbed attention for simply showing up with their pianos and Euro cool. Yet this unheralded Spanish singer reminds us what being a sophisticated chanteuse is all about. The surface suggests a fragile, Stina Nordenstam exterior but Rosenvinge is much tougher than that on her third English language album. Her resonant voice is rich with resolve, equally confident cooing whispery prose or unleashing a tightly controlled howl from the back of her throat. No matter how aesthetically pleasing, her arrangements are always underscored with a tightly wound tension and the songs never settle into comfortable patterns. It helps that her band here includes members of Two Dollar Guitar, Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo and her record company boss Steve Shelley. Avant-pop, art rock, Euro cabaret and the darkest shades of bossa nova imaginable all come into play yet ultimately, Rosenvinge emerges as a unique voice and a towering presence. (Smells Like)