Sasha Papernik will surprise you. The conservatory-trained classical pianist has been winning national and international piano competitions since the age of eight, but Papernik has never been able to shy away from the freedom of rock music. Lyric ballads have grown into vibrant rockers, or been spiced up with blinding fast piano runs that strike like lightning and disappear just as quickly. The Boston-born singer/songwriter has been haunting the clubs of New York City and New England for a few years now with unaffected pop music that's a cousin to that of Tori Amos, Kate Bush and Sarah Slean. Papernik's band, Sasha And The Indulgents, released their second album in late 2010; a quirky eight-song collection entitled Love In A Box.
Sasha And The Indulgents opens with the musical split personality of the title track. "Love In A Box" opens as a depressed and dreamy rumination, but transforms into a quirky, angular pop chorus that's incredibly infectious. Papernik displays an animated, vaguely demented and theatrical style here that is hard not to get into. "Carolina" is an intriguing dream-pop number about someone who is chasing down her dreams in spite of what family and friends might say. It's an ode to someone who has given up everything to get her deepest wish. There's a mild country/Americana flavor in this mellow arrangement that is appealing. "Edges Of Your Mind" is a bit obtuse in imagery, but is built on a wonderfully vibrant piano progression.
"I Read The Letter" is an interesting bit of piano pop, channeling the manic feel that tends to infuse Papernik's songs into an edgy and vibrant arrangement that dances on the edge of exploding. "Would You Like Me" is a great pictorial in song of romance from the perspective of an emotional chameleon that is honest in her dysfunction. The chorus here is highly memorable, and the dramatic sensibility of the narrator approaches a brittle break without ever quite breaching the divide. "Chasing Hours" is perhaps the cleanest piano-pop song on the album; a gentle ballad that's full of simple beauty and emotion. Unfortunately the production on this track isn't what it might be. Love In A Box bows with "Ten Thousand Dreams", a dreamy, sparse number in a quasi-chanson style. Sasha Papernik's voice is angelic here, and the atmosphere one of heartbreaking beauty.
Sasha And The Indulgents hit listeners where they live on Love In A Box, delivering quirky, unusually placed pop music full of beauty, grace and honest thoughts and emotion. Without affectation or device, Sasha Papernik dwells on the beauty of human imperfection and nobility in song. Love In A Box doesn't play by the rules of pop music, speaking of real lives and real people in a real voice. If you hunger for honesty in art, then Love In A Box is gift-wrapped just for you.
Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)