Circuit des Yeux: In Plain Speech (Thrill Jockey Records)

Released back in May, the recent LP by Chicagoan Haley Fohr is one of this year's gems

Released May 18th, 2015 via Thrill Jockey / By Norman Miller
Circuit des Yeux: In Plain Speech (Thrill Jockey Records) Chicago-based Haley Fohr is one of the music scene's most distinctive presences, a brilliant songwriter possessed of a startling and stupendous baritone voice you really don't expect to emanate from her gamine frame.

This latest album under her Circuit Des Yeux alter ego crept under the radar on its release earlier this year in May, but a recent slew of UK shows will hopefully have garnered a new legion of fans – including anyone smitten by Angel Deradoorian's post-Dirty Projectors solo forays.

Fantasize The Scene is one of the songs of this year or any other. It's a stunning torch number Jeff Buckley at his peak would have been proud of, resonant lyrics returning to an insistent questioning/questing refrain - “I know a place where we could go/ Maybe I will meet you there/ In a world where we'll go all the way” - before sinking into an echoing guitar finale.

But there are gems everywhere on the album. KT1 is a brilliant opener, its quickly shimmering organ cradling Fohr's slow deep croon, ending with a flourish of sighing strings and a sudden stop that leaves beautiful memories hanging in the air.

Do The Dishes (check out the the fantastic promo vid) sets see-sawing fiddle – which also appears on Ride Blind - beneath world-weary declamations framed by those trademark dark vocals, though the closing burst of mad carnival-esque jig seems unnecessarily jarring.

Dream Of TV is another beauty, combining frail mandolin, eerie flute and bird-like electronic trills with a swirl of noise cut with warbles and yodels. The bold musical diversity continues with Guitar Knife's oriental electronic plinks and plonks contrasted with bass thuds and dark vocalisations.

The sweet acoustic folky elements of A Story Of This World and In The Late Afternoon offer a contrast to the general air of gorgeous mournful reflection, though the latter reaches back to the Circuit Des Yeux template with its woodwind and groaning vocal.

A truly individual talent to treasure.