Nina Nastasia
Run to Ruin Touch and Go http://www.tinymixtapes.com//sites/default/files/arton5349_0.jpg

[Touch and Go; 2003]

Rating: 3/5 3 / 5 (0)

Styles: pop music, lo-fi, singer/songwriter
Others: Edith Frost, Townes Van Zandt, Cat Power, Joanna Newsom, Scout Niblett


http://media.tinymixtapes.com/


The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Halloween. Friday the 13th. All classics of the horror genre, whose jumpy thrills pale in comparison to the persistent, piercing disquietude of Nina Nastasia's latest release, Run to Ruin. The skeletal horse on the cover is truly emblematic of the album's mix of bare-bones (pun intended) instrumentation with macabre lyrical themes. Whether delivering a cautionary parable about pride and drowning ("On Teasing") or mysterious paralysis of bodily extremities ("You Her and Me"), the record's stark production and dry-as-dust performances make for a chilling musical experience.

The album starts out with an overtly Eastern feel on "We Never Talked," and that feel continues to haunt Run to Ruin more subtly throughout. The dominant sound, however, is that of traditional, sparse folk with an Appalachian streak, as fiddles, accordions, banjo, and hammer dulcimer accompany Nastasia's mostly simple acoustic (and occasionally electric) guitar parts. The volume rarely rises above a whisper, but there are harsh bursts of scratchy, distorted guitar, reminiscent of producer Steve Albini's own bands: Big Black, Rapeman, and Shellac. The cumulative effect is that of a sort of hoe-down of the dead.

What pulls the listener back from the brink is Nastasia's lovely, breathy voice. It is not Run to Ruin's only beautiful feature, but it is certainly the most persistent. Even when singing such brutal lyrics as "My blood for you, my lover's bruise / My clothes are scattered, my skull is fractured" (from "The Body"), there is some comfort in the antique grace of Nastasia's vocals. The tentative, in-and-out guitars of "Superstar" are another of the album's high points. The album's principal low point is its running length, which barely breaks half an hour. There is also a lack of variety, but a half hour lack of variety is not such a hardship when it is so gorgeous. And for me, the gorgeousness is worth the abject terror.

1. We Never Talked
2. I Say That I Will Go
3. Regrets
4. You Her and Me
5. Superstar
6. The Body
7. On Teasing
8. While We Talk

1. We Never Talked
2. I Say That I Will Go
3. Regrets
4. You Her and Me
5. Superstar
6. The Body
7. On Teasing


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