Based in Washington DC, Janel Leppin-Pirog already has one album and a couple of EPs to her name, and an earlier album as a duo with Anthony Pirog, now her husband. Confusingly, her one previous album is called Mellow Diamond, and here she records the album American God as Mellow Diamond!
Janel is a talented singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who for American God returns to her preferred instrument, the cello, to make an album that is beguiling, introspective, thoughtful, and highly atmospheric. Using a combination of the cello, often multi-tracked, or looped, or put through various effects pedals, along with subtle use of electronica makes for a heady and unusual mix, resulting in swirls of ambient semi-acoustic psychedelia.
Sometimes I am put in mind of some of Ivo Watts-Russell’s work with This Mortal Coil, particularly on the minimalist Gothic deconstruct of Art Holds Her Hand, a funereal paced and sombre death march, atop which Janel’s lilting ice maiden tones lull us into the land of Morpheus with impressionistic tales of the primal forces of Nature.
While art holds her hand
In that sparkling garden
The queen’s rule multiplied
The richest wane.”
“Of her diamond in the Moon Moon Moon.”
Ophiuchus ups the pace, and onto the title track where we find Janel channelling Nico, the lyrical concerns turned to focus on the unrelenting all-devouring monster that is Janel’s homeland. Back to Pleasure Highway, a song that exudes an earthy vibrancy, and Stick And Stone, which has a creepy poignancy, and another lyric using nature as metaphor.
This is a captivating album that if anything doesn’t hang around for long enough, being only a tad over half an hour long. This leaves me wanting more!
01. Ashes To Breathe (4:18)
02. Pleasure Highway (3:44)
03. Where The Heart Grows (5:07)
04. Stick And Stone (2:08)
05. Art Holds Her Hand (2:55)
06. Papery Haze (2:08)
07. Ophiuchus (3:35)
08. American God (6:17)
09. Thumb The Dumb (2:37)
Total Time – 32:49
Janel Leppin – No list of instruments is given, but we assume Janel does everything, as she did on her Mellow Diamond album
Record Label: n/a
Country of Origin: U.S.A.
Date of Release: 28th April 2017