Thursday, December 12, 2013
The indescipherable prettiness of Sumie
SUMIE – Sumie (Bella Union)
BY JENNIFER KELLY
Sumie Nagano plays a spare and delicate folk music, her fingers tracing spidery guitar patterns that circle one chord and then another, her voice cutting clean through a sparkling silence. She sounds a bit like Linda Perhacs if you can imagine her without the occasional blues slide, or perhaps somewhat akin to Sharon Van Etten, though more remote and less vulnerable.
The person she does not sound like, at all, is her sister Yukimi Nagano, who shades the electro-pop of Little Dragon with stylized R&B cools and trills. Little Dragon is all stylish pose and posture. Sumie, by contrast, brings almost no artifice to this self-titled debut. She uses no vibrato, indulges in no surface emoting, refuses to belt and declines, even, the drama of a well-placed stage whisper. Sumie merely sings, hitting the notes crisply and exactly. Her guitar playing has the same distilled clarity, each note plucked and rounded and left to hang, nothing fancy like bends or pull-offs or hammer-ons.