Mary Pearson has a precious way of singing. It isn't just the delicacy of her voice, not just the well-mannered and introverted syntax of her lyrics; it's something about the way she writes her melodies, the way they keep to themselves, holed up through short lifetimes of diatonic isolation, a little sad but still self-sufficient, like Emily Dickinson. Her song subjects sometimes tend toward the dreamy and fantastic, like the story of the girl in "She's a Wild Horse." Rob Barber's musical arrangements give her performances enough space to breathe and be themselves, but they're assertive enough that they can exist in counterpoint with keyboard and guitar lines. Layering is one of the strongest things about High Places; it's strong even when the vocals don't try to be.
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