The One and the Other; a title both rigorously specific and philosophically general, deftly fits Lara Solnicki’s third album. Built with equal measures of poetic craft, classical vocal training, and a jazz-infused exploration of form and improvisation, the seven tracks are a journey from tentative meeting to sorrowful parting. What, or who, has met and parted, is up for debate. Two people, perhaps? Or perhaps one person’s fantasy has coincided with reality, only to wrenchingly diverge again later. A dreamlike quality pervades the whole, spun from the mind-melded ensemble—Peter Lutek on electroacoustic reeds, Rob Piltch on guitars, Davide Di Renzo on drums, Scott Peterson on basses, Rich Brown on electric bass, Hugh Marsh’s shimmering interventions on electric violin, and album producer Jonathan Goldsmith’s touches on electronics, pianos, basses, and production—under the direction of Solnicki’s compositional and literal voice.
The gorgeous clarity illuminating each sung note at times hovers above, or plunges into, the instrumental landscape. Solnicki’s timbre often conveys more emotion than the melody; much of the lyric resides in repeated notes, oscillating between pure sine-wave sound and more conversational tone, and creating by turns intimacy or distance, cold narration, or warm involvement. The lyrics demand active, concentrated listening, with text and music that surreptitiously undermine each other’s affect to suggest a complex world of half-truths. The One and the Other ebbs and flows in a captivating, cinematic unfolding that slyly blurs distinctions between instruments, characters, and perspectives within it.