Pop music too often means Auto-Tuned, exhibitionistic fluff with sophomoric lyrics served up by veteran artists who should know better (MDNA, anyone?). That makes it refreshing to hear an artist like Carina Round, a self-trained singer with an operatic range whose narrative-driven songs are smart and enticing.
Born in England but residing in L.A. since 2005, Round has attracted collaborators including the Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart, star producer Glen Ballard and Ryan Adams. She’s lent her voice to the Twilight Singers and Maynard James Keenan’s Tool offshoot, Puscifer, in addition to releasing an album with the alt-country side project Early Winters. It’s less impressive that Round’s fourth and latest album, Tigermending, is her first full-length since Slow Motion Addict in 2007 than it is that she had any time to sleep during that five-year stretch.
On Tigermending, which features contributions from Stewart, Brian Eno and Billy Corgan, Round proves again that she has the chops to back up even the most far-reaching of her musical experimentations. The album plays like an audio storybook, with each page containing vivid pictures that trace her vocal shape-shifting from honey-soaked, ethereal murmurs and bright, sweet melodies to devil-possessed blues howls. The sonic diversity adds to an overarching sense of drama rather than feeling disorganized, and leaves us wondering what sorts of magic Round will reveal next.