Melora Creager, the cellist and lead singer of the chamber-rock band Rasputina, has released her second solo album, which is available exclusively from the band's website. On Melora a la Basilica, she is joined by Daniel DeJesus, who is also playing a cello and providing vocals. The end result is an album of fan-favorite tunes, highlighted by the minimalist arrangements.
Four of the eleven tracks are Creager/Rasputina originals, with the rest being covers of familiar and not-so-familiar pop/rock tunes. Creager's songs stand out above those that may be more familiar with a general audience due in part to her ability to create characters and bring them to life through poetry and melody. The song "Rose K." about Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy is particularly poignant for anyone witnessing the effects of dementia on elderly relatives or friends.
Her choice of cover songs draws from a broad range of originating genres, but for each one, she puts her own spin to it. The traditional song "Wicked Dickie" is a notable tune about an old farmer who's mourning the death of his one remaining cow, and the characteristic tremor of Creager's vocals add even more power to the sadness pouring forth from the cello strings. The snappy "I Want to Marry a Light House Keeper" hints at the old string band feel of the original version from the Clockwork Orange soundtrack, but the cellos seem to anchor it a bit more while at the same time keeping it connected with the gothic, "recorded in a cathedral or concert hall" feel of the rest of the album.
Although the album is marketed towards fans and is partially intended to introduce the new Rasputina lineup, it nevertheless can stand on its own well enough with new listeners. Acoustic music is flooded with guitars and other folk instruments, but rarely are traditional orchestral instruments used prominently. This is one of the things that makes Melora Creager and Rasputina stand out in the sea of acoustic singer/songwriter bands. The deep, almost vocal quality of the cellos create an atmosphere that is guaranteed to take the listener on an unusual adventure.