Guy Blakeslee: Ophelia Slowly

Guy Blakeslee has a very remarkable instrument in his voice. You wouldn't describe it as a classically "pretty" voice, nor is its power just from force or volume or even grit. It has elements of the legendary blues shouters, which makes sense given that much of his past work with his group the Entrance Band dwells in that tradition. But it is also definitely a contemporary voice, without any retro affectation. Whatever it is, tack on a little reverb to it and Blakeslee has a powerful tool to convey his haunting tales of spiritual battles. Which is precisely what we get with Ophelia Slowly, his first solo album released under his own name.

Musically, Ophelia Slowly is lighter in tone than Blakeslee's Entrance Band work. The heavy psychedelic elements are tempered, giving way to a more calming backdrop. Collaborating with his longtime friend Chris Coady as producer (known for his work with Beach House & Future Islands), Blakeslee uses spartan rhythm boxes on tracks like "Smile On" and "Year of the Dragon" to propel the tunes, giving an open landscape for his distinctive guitar picking and of course his passionate singing, veering between optimism and despair, often in the same song. The setting may be relatively bare, but Blakeslee fills it perfectly, creating a personal statement that is as intense as it is musical.

-Eric J. Lawrence

Track List:

1. Haunted City
2. Kneel and Pray
3. Smile On
4. The Cloud
5. Year of the Dragon
6. Ophelia Floats Away
7. Told Myself
8. City in the Rain
9. Ophelia Brown

Photo courtesy of the artist