Be wary of record covers that lack a prominently featured name
and a track listing. At times, this can be a red flag, indicating
an artist trying a little too hard to be difficult. Elizabeth Anka
Vajagic’s debut, Stand With the Stillness of the Day,
suffers for this reason. The Canadian songstress recruited a crew
of versatile local musicians to provide complicated orchestration,
similar to Conor Oberst and Bright Eyes. The difference is that
Conor writes good songs.

Music Reviews
Norah Jones with a guitar. (Courtesy of Constellation)

The album is a dense and intense listening experience.
Vajagic’s sparse lyrics, alternately yelled or whispered in a
fairly unique husky baritone, don’t do much to lighten the
load. On “Where You Wonder,” when the drums pick up and
the guitars kick, it’s a relief from the droll repetition and
there is hope that the album will veer into the “good”
kind of experimentation. Soon enough, the song resorts back to
Vajagic’s quiet, bored whisperings. This is a unique pop
record because it doesn’t rely on the bass-guitar drum setup
and yet the songs here fall too easily into a formula: down-tempo,
moody orchestration and spare, accusatory lyrics, with slight,
intermittent crescendos.

Vajagic’s fans, in defense, might describe her as raw or
uncompromising. While these are good buzz words to throw around,
they also offer a clue as to why this music fails to captivate. By
focusing on being different and abstract, Vajagic has lost focus on
writing quality songs. This album is ambitious, no doubt, and
Vajagic should get credit for trying. But it seems that her songs
have gotten lost amid her ambitions, floating in a sea of strings
and cymbals.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars.

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