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The song titles on Joanne Robertson's new album Blue Car share a sketch-like quality with the music. "If It Feels." "Street Empty." "Jeans." They feel like the first firing of a synapse that's stimulated either by a spark of feeling, a simple observation, or a combination of both. Such moments are more than simply personal: they're where the lattice of personhood begins. Recorded over the course of 10 years (during which time Robertson collaborated frequently with Dean Blunt and shared projects via his World Music label), Blue Car is billed as "similar to diary entries" for how it captures Robertson's emotional states on the days that the songs were recorded. Blue Car consists of just Robertson's singing and her acoustic guitar, widening her channel to expression by cutting down on the instruments. The number of elements is spartan; the resounding emotional heft of the songs is not.
"Jeans" is a clear window through which Robertson offers a view into her interior life. Her voice is a Vashti Bunyan fantasy recorded on a laptop's onboard mic with GarageBand reverb — one can easily envision the overheated machine resting on Robertson's bed as she plays. The lyrics of the song are cloudy, though her desert blues-inflected guitar lines leave one content to lie back and watch them drift by. Would a pricey microphone and some studio time have led to a more polished sound? Almost certainly. But then the song would have lost some of its indefinable and revelatory quality: froth on our soul's subatomic soup, waiting for an unguarded moment to reveal itself to us.