Artist: Heather Nova
Format: CD
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The exotic hook in Heather Nova’s rher childhoodspent in Bermuda and sailing around the West Indies on her father’s sailboat.That ephemeral rootlessness has informed Nova’s music since her debut overa decade ago, and is especially evident on her latest album, the long-delayedSouth. Partially written and recorded in her native Bermuda, Nova strivesfor a more organic process on South and comes up with a warmth and soulfulnessthat has often been buried under sonic attitude on her previous outings.

Stripping away all of the pop veneer of Oyster and Siren, Nova paints a coupleof Sheryl Crow-like portraits with the gentle “If I Saw You in a Movie”and the snappy “Virus of the Mind.” On “Heaven Sent” and“It’s Only Love,” Nova puts a pop shine on British electric folk,effectively crossing Aimee Mann and Eliza Carthy. The one odd moment here isthe album’s opener, “Gloomy Sunday,” a track that Nova cut fora German film of the same name and which probably should have been a hiddentrack or a B-side. Although she reportedly included the cut to serve as a guidepostfor the rest of the album, it couldn’t be more removed from it. A cooland bleak jazz dirge that frames a contemplation of suicide to join a dead lover,“Gloomy Sunday” is at odds with the rest of South’s reflectivewarmth. Even when Nova drifts toward melancholia, it never approaches that song’squiet desperation and resignation. Beyond that weird stumble, the rest of Southis an evocative and emotional album that hints at the direction Heather Novamay travel next as she continues to shed the mantle of rock goddess that wasunfairly fitted for her.