June 29, 2005

Ida "Heart Like a River"

New York's Ida understands the virtue of patience. In 1997, shortly after releasing their third album Ten Small Paces, their record label shut down. The band then signed a deal with Capitol Records, but the relationship never came to fruition; their record, Will You Find Me?, eventually came out in 2000. Their next album, The Braille Night, was a collection of songs recorded during the sessions for their previous album. Ida once again outlived their label, and after four years (more, if you want to be pedantic about it), they've finally released a new album. One listen to Heart Like A River and it's obvious the career hassles and the delays haven't phased Ida one bit. Though now a three-piece, their style has expanded into a bigger, bolder sound, one that incorporates elements of pop, jazz and the blues, elements that started to appear on their last two records. Thankfully, they've sheared some of the bombast that made The Braille Night somewhat disappointing..

From the bluesy "Late Blues" and "Written On My Face" to the oddly upbeat "Mine" and the gorgeous album closer "Forgive," the band's sound is larger than ever; gone are the simple folk arrangements, in favor of complex rhythms and deeper atmospherics. An Ida record always promises gentle beauty, and despite all of the upheaval and the struggles and the delays that have arisen over the past decade, they have yet to betray that simple rule. Both Dan Littleton and Elizabeth Mitchell are in fine voice; Mitchell still sings with a sad lilt in her voice, and Littleton still sounds oddly detatched, but by harmonizing with each other and their bandmate Karla Schikele, their voices often sound quite heavenly. Schikele's two contributions, "What Can I Do" and "Honeyslide," show that she's grown as a musician as well. Her voice recalls Karen Carpenter, and her songs are distinctive enough to create an additional depth to the rest of the record.

It's good to have Ida back on track. Heart Like a River is a strong, beautiful record that quietly makes up for lost time. Here's to a fresh start and a little career stability for this quiet little band; after all they've been through, they deserve nothing more than the ability to make records.

--Joseph Kyle

Artist Website: http://www.idamusic.com
Label Website: http://www.polyvinylrecords.com

No comments: