Elysian Fields
Bleed Your Cedar
(Radioactive Records)

Elysian Fields debuted with a four-song EP a few months ago that instantly gave notice of an enticing new talent on the rise. Their first full-length CD includes the best song from the EP, the hypnotic and sultry "Star," and surrounds it with a weaving of somber, moody, dark beauty. The band centers around the delectable vocals of Jennifer Charles, who sings in a lazy, provocative cadence that's as often stirring and evocative as erotically hypnotic.

The album opens with a low chiming guitar and Charles whisper-singing of a time when she "used to go skinny dipping in a lake" but "now the pool of your heart is frozen and I never did learn how to skate." This is a cool draught of emotion tucked in a bed of sensual, throbbing music. Charles has a quartet of talented musicians backing her up, and their instrumental subtlety enchances her own understatement to dazzling effect.

The band mixes alternative guitar buzz with blue jazz and disparate elements of folk, rock, Eastern trills and pure American roots in a stew that's heady and exciting. And dark. The picture of a bluegreen-tinged twilit swamp on the album's back cover is the best description of the music inside. This is deep mysterious and blue. Charles' lyrics are consistently poetic and circular.In "Off or Out" she sings of "inside sucking outside/spouting heavy moonlight...can't get you off or out of my head" as the band strums an acoustic blues progression behind her. "Fountains on Fire," begins with Charles singing about "last night in my dream I travelled for years and years" while a guitar strums softly. Then the jazzy snare opens things up for an echoey chorus of Charles trilling "fountains on fire." The song's best moment comes in its eerie middle when a witchy piano solo strolls wickedly through the langorously brooding mood.

"Star," the one repeat from the band's EP, is still the band's strongest song, with a piano and drum backdrop as Charles sinuously sings a tone poem of love: "Round, round and around/surrounding my planet, arousing my planet/heart beats madly like a drum...it's beating faster and faster/slow down dear, slow down...you can make me if you try/gently like a lullabye/hold me tight inside your arms/make me feel just like a star." Charles is a modern rock chanteuse. Bleed Your Cedar is a sensual journey into the lush jungles of the mind and heart. Don't miss it.