Metals

Leslie Feist writes mystery stories. The 35-year-old emerged in the past decade as one of pop's most beguiling singer-songwriters, and one of its most enigmatic, with a voice that slides from folkie croon to gospel cry and songs that seem dredged from the murkiest depths of memory. Metals has nothing with the instant appeal of the 2007 hit-cum-iPod-jingle "1234." But it's her best album, a mood piece that tosses in everything from folk to Malian-style desert blues. The lyric sheet sometimes reads like a riddle: "It's as much what it is as what it is not," she sings in "The Circle Married the Line," which builds to a series of stirring strings-and-brass-bolstered crescendos. The meaning is unclear, but like everything on Metals, it delivers an emotional gut-punch.

Listen to "How Come You Never Go There":

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Four Years After '1234,' Feist Returns With Raw Follow-Up

From The Archives Issue 1141: October 13, 2011