Oregonian - January 2003

Scott Lewis
Falling for Amelia with its lush, sultry debut.

Artist: Amelia CD: Somewhere Left To Fall (self-released)
Grade: A

"The buzz: Portland's most promising and pretty-sounding new band, Amelia, will perform Saturday, Feb. 8, at the Alberta Street Public House."

"Career capsule: Amelia was born when three members of Portland alternative-country favorites the Flatirons regrouped and recruited Say Uncle vocalist Teisha Helgerson to sing their sleepy, sultry songs."

"This CD: If there is such a thing as a "date album," this is one, and it's hard to imagine anyone not instantly falling for this gorgeous batch of gently smoldering, country-jazz torch songs."

"Waves of watery, tremolo and Latin-leaning guitar give these 11 songs their melting flow and are superbly supported by sedate yet steady rhythms and tasty touches of piano and other key-based instruments. There are, as well, splashes of accordion, autoharp, melodica, glockenspiel and several other elsewhere-underemployed instruments."

"Then there's Helgerson's voice?sophisticated and seductive, aged and weary yet fresh and filled with hope, clear as a bell and evocative while sounding eternally elusive."

"Placing such talents together, Amelia demonstrates a seamless union of identity, sound and purpose, and the first-rate production allows the band's beauty and brilliance to bloom in full."

  • Just about the only complaint to be filed with "Somewhere Left To Fall" is that it sounds too short. It's not, really?clocking in at 43 minutes, it's easily an LP's worth of wonder?but it seems to stop just when it really settles in.

    "Must hear/tracks to skip: Yawning to life via an extended guitar note and getting on its feet with help from a snare-heavy beat, "Marigolds" nicely sums up Amelia's many charms. The song sounds like sleepwalking through a field of flowers?all breezy, soft and sweet?and when Helgerson spins out the line "More marigolds and maybes until the sadness comes again," she does it in a way that both melts the heart and burns it onto the brain."

    "Nearly as stunning is "False Start." Though it has a similarly semiconscious feel and wears its heavy heart lovingly on its sleeve, the song subtly skips along with help from paced rimshots to the snare drum and percolating high-strung guitar that's pushed right up front in the mix."

    "Things get a bit brooding and sinister during "Come Clean," the most forceful and rocking song on the album, while "Safe and Sound" conjures images of a more rural "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road." "No Valentine" slinks out of the speakers with its flamenco-flavored guitar and twinkling tiple (a stringed South American instrument) playing, "Stranded" is swollen with dusty guitars and a delicious sense of distance, and the closing "Gone for Good" ranks as the album's most stark, country-influenced song."

    Other music of this genre: Hazeldine, Snakefarm, Lisa Cerbone, Mojave 3, Danielle Howle, Slumber Party, Neko Case

    Influences: Calexico, Cowboy Junkies, Emmylou Harris, the Innocence Mission, Eliza Gilkyson, 10,000 Maniacs

    Essentials: The Flatirons' "Prayer Bones"; keeping up with the band's adventures and progress via its Web site at www.ameliaband.com

    Bottom line: A lush and lovely listen from start to stop, "Somewhere Left To Fall . . ." is a beautiful and beguiling debut that's all but impossible to resist." Scott Lewis

  • John Chandler
    Amelia trades in the twang for a torch
    Portland band leaves the country behind
    Amelia Somewhere Left to Fall (Self-Produced)

    "You never know until you slap on the headphones.
    Three-quarters of Portland's Amelia are former members of the country-rock band the Flatirons. So one would reasonably expect to hear similar fare here. But Amelia makes a clean break. This band is all about mood and melancholy. Fueled by singer Teisha Helgerson's jazz-inflected despondency, Amelia steers clear of prairie thunder and heads straight for the gypsy camp, replete with near-tango tempos and Scott Weddle's simmering guitar pluck. Helgerson, armed with Natalie Merchant-like pipes, darts gracefully around Weddle's guitar, catching us up to date on her love-life disasters on songs such as 'Wings' and 'No Valentine'."

    "The band takes a slow, methodical approach in accompanying her emotional fallout. On 'Come Clean' Helgerson shifts from languid remorse to actual anger, and the rest of the musicians kick up the intensity accordingly."

    "What Amelia really has going for it is a healthy sense of communication among Helgerson, Weddle, bassist Jesse Emerson and drummer Richie Cuellar. For each song, the roles are clearly defined, and the band creates effective space between each instrument. The result is something new, a kind of torch-lounge-country-jazz. It's both engaging and innovative ? ingredients currently in short supply."