Cortney Tidwell Don't Let Stars Keep Us Tangled Up

It might be a cliché for country musicians to have tragedy-laden lives, but Cortney Tidwell is proof that it does happen. Her mother, a singer at the Grand Ole Opry, was diagnosed with manic depression and died young, but not before such rampant mood swings that her daughter always connected music and sadness in a way that could have prevented her from becoming a musician herself. Yet the Nashville native has just recorded a very un-Nashville-like debut album. Don’t Let Stars Keep Us Tangled Up is a strange little record because Tidwell just doesn’t to settle into one style of music, preferring to jump between genres with each passing track. But she goes even further, forcing together different genres with quite jarring results. A country tune with waves of shoegazing guitar? Check. Doo-wop with a healthy dose of twang? Check. It never quite decides what it wants to be and that makes for an interesting, if slightly disorienting, listening. Tidwell’s vocals are remarkably Björk-ish without the cloying over-enunciation, although there are moments where she sounds more like Beth Gibbons from Portishead. The arrangements are complex, with many layers that mix her voice with guitars and electronics, resulting in an unconventional album that takes time to appreciate fully. It is, however, worth the time. (Ever)