What Animates You

Tamara Dearing

Keyboard-wielding local songstress Tamara Dearing begs for Tori Amos comparisons, if only for the two songwriters’ similar templates, but Dearing exercises her craft with a lot less esotericism and sports a few more Exile in Guyville-isms. In “Give It Away,” a song about failed past relationships, Dearing sings, You only saw things in black and white/And I was neither one. It’s a line that seems applicable to What Animates You, too — the album isn’t especially quirky, neither is it brooding or dour. All those elements are present, but in moderation. Dearing rarely uses the piano settings on her keyboard, and while most of the songs’ arrangements are sparse and hushed, over half bounce along lively, syncopated rhythms. On a few occasions, bad production distracts from the balancing act, but with so much that Dearing does right, it’s a minor qualm.