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Vanessa Lowe – Stars of Bean Hollow (The Mighty Prawn/Jicama Salad Co.)

Vanessa Lowe - Stars of Bean Hollow
2 April 2013

Berkeley, CA-based folkie Lowe first began playing the NYC/Boston coffeehouse circuit in college, before heading to Denver to get a doctorate in clinical psychology. But she never stopped making music, and this is now her fifth album, following 2008’s strangely-titled Eep. As on her 2004 third LP 57 Suspect Words, she’s backed by her band Bug Eyed Sprite (bassist Ben Freelove, guitarist Myles Boisen, and drummer/multi-instrumentalist Kent Sparling). They provide buoyant and mellifluous shading, perfect for her loosely-structured, stream-of-consciousness style of writing.

And though her pretty songs and soothing voice go down easy, like a cup of herbal tea on a Spring morning, her introspective, allegorical lyrics often dig deeper. For instance, on the sighing “Caption” she ponders a life or relationship gone amiss: “Oh the hands of the clock held us safe in our lives/Time is short and the hoarding of words is a crime/Oh the world is a wild place to grow wise.” Her words are dreamlike and open to interpretation, often invoking nature imagery like restless rivers and starlit skies to represent contrasting feelings like indecision and hopefulness. And having been to the tiny seaside town of Pescadero, CA myself, I’d imagine that its remote beach likely referenced in the LP’s title would be a prime location for ocean/star-gazing, and probably an inspiration for Lowe’s vivid, searching music.