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Skylar Gudasz and Willie Nile with the new and noteworthy 

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Skylar Gudasz
, Cinema (Suah Sounds) – North Carolina’s Gudasz has been building a fan base since being primary vocalist for Chris Stamey’s New Songs for the 20th Century, and touring with the latest incarnation of Big Star. Gudasz offered a decent debut album in 2016’s Oleander, but this follow-up is breathtaking in its simple grace. Gudasz’s slightly Southern delivery brings to mind Esme Patterson or Diane Cluck, but what really makes the album special is her way of melding direct lyrical statements in songs like “Femme Fatale” and “Waitress,” with musical arrangements that somehow manage to be both lush and minimal.
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Willie Nile, New York at Night (River House Records) – Nile’s 2018 album Children of Paradise was an angry political testimony on immigrants and the homeless. Last year the long-time punker set out to record a 12-track love letter to New York City. It was released during the city’s lockdown, giving it an unintended shot of nostalgia and irony. Songs like “The Backstreet Slide” and “Downtown Girl” would have seemed delightfully starry-eyed in the best of times, but now it feels like trying to remember a normal city in the midst of zombie apocalypse. Given what new COVID trends suggest about bars and nightlife, Nile’s passionate and danceable work may exist as a period piece for quite some time, to remind us of all we have lost.

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