We can look at Carla Bozulich’s recent career as an insurrection carried out in stages. She reinterpreted the entirety of Willie Nelson’s The Red Headed Stranger in 2003. On 2006’s Evangelista -- my favorite record of that year -- Bozulich unleashed a grotty, croaking, gorgeous suite of laments and diatribes. The record sprang from a series of homemade drones that Bozulich subsequently torqued and embellished in the studio; it was original and darkly cohesive, still obeying some implicit order that gurgled beneath its prickly surface. And now we have Hello, Voyager. Bozulich has amassed a band and baptized it with the name of her last record, and together they careen through a broken itinerary of radiant darkness. There’s no guiding concept or aesthetic to be found, just a violent outpouring, like flash floods across the tongue.
You have the impression that, really, Bozulich might just come through the speakers to put either her fist or her tongue in your mouth, and you’re not sure which you’d prefer. She can sing love songs about busted teacups (“The Blue Room”) and gnash her teeth in scorched crevasses of distortion (“The Frozen Dress”); she can write a record that fucking earns song titles like “Truth Is Dark Like Outer Space.” Her voice -- that voice! -- bellows, cracks, haunts, and ultimately delivers a vision of love that smashes together the first kiss and the last swill of poison and refuses to let you choose between the two.
Evangelista The Band is just as dark as Evangelista The Record was two years ago. Bozulich is still a spitfire preacher brandishing fistfuls of snakes, but there’s no longer a single tent that can hold her gospel. She vagabonds, tearing up grubby canvas flaps so we can bear witness to some of the most heart-wrenching, sordid songcraft this side of Scott Walker. “Now I’m the empress, the queen, the king, my domain and I like loud things.” She is, she does; Hello, Voyager: you should.
1. Winds of St. Anne2. Smooth Jazz3. Lucky Lucky Luck4. For the L’il Dudes5. The Blue Room6. Truth Is Dark Like Outer Space7. The Frozen Dress8. Paper Kitten Claw9. Hello, Voyager