Jarboe Is as Haunting and Dangerous As Ever on 'Illusory'
Published Apr 20, 2020This new disc from former Swans vocalist and keyboardist Jarboe La Salle Devereaux will satisfy her many admirers locked down around the world. At seven tracks and just over half an hour, it's a bit light, but that's more than made up for by her vocal gravitas. She's sounding every bit as haunting and dangerous as she did next to Michael Gira in the 1980s.
It's appropriate to see Jarboe as part of a continuum of post-punk superwomen who've gone a long way toward ensuring the genre maintains its relevance beyond teenage boyhood. Arguably, she is an underappreciated character in a story that includes Lisa Gerrard, Diamanda Galas, Lydia Lunch, Elizabeth Fraser and Gudrun Gut.
Her solo debut, Thirteen Masks, landed 29 years ago. While it must be said that she has not moved a great deal from that point musically, that's perfectly fine with those who love Jarboe and her sparkling take on dark anti-pop.
The new disc offers its share of highlights. The title track "Illusory" is a stunner. Featuring an airy vocal backed by a sadly romantic piano, it was always going to be the album's first single. "Arrival" takes us in a different, less calming direction. It's a bit sinister, which has often been the case with Jarboe's work. She balances beauty and beastliness in a way that has long kept us on our toes, and it is a genuine balance. Jarboe is one of a small number of artists who can make beauty unsettling and darkness hospitable. (Consouling Sounds)