Bella Lea, with the Good Life and Make Believe

To see Maura Davis perform with Denali was to know she was destined for bigger things. Though appealingly ethereal, the group struggled to create worthy vocal vehicles for Davis's operatic range and elegant phrasing. Denali dissolved when Maura's brother Keeley left to pursue Engine Down, but she surfaced last summer in Bella Lea with members of Pinebender, Joan of Arc and Euphone in tow. This band lets Davis carry the melodic weight, decorating her delicate delivery with shimmering noise. On "The Mess," a downloadable track from its as-yet-unreleased debut EP, Davis's voice sounds as if it were cut-and-pasted from an empty-room session, and the effect works well with the spare garage-rock backdrop. When Davis sings "save my heart from breaking," the command lingers lovingly, ending as gracefully as a splashless dive.
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Andrew Miller