Picastro – Red Your Blues

Red Your Blues

Already on the tongues of tastemakers everywhere North of the border, Toronto’s Picastro are a succulent mix of female vocals, cello, steeped electric and acoustic guitars, and drums to dwell upon. Red Your Blues is stunning in that its originator Liz Hysen genetically is supposed to be deaf. Reading that tidbit of information, you have to wonder if perhaps one hears on another level when raised in a deaf family and sign language is your first language.
“Winter Notes” offers an introduction of mood setting guitar and cello and it’s one that strikes most of Red Your Blues. To describe the mood is difficult, but sullen is one word that comes to mind. It’s like those occasional moments that Smog, Dirty Three, or the For Carnation have played with in the past. The cello is indeed an affective means to inspire or subdue the listener’s feeling for the song with its rich sounds and long, slow pulling notes. These are coarse sounds when you can actually feel the hairs of the bow sliding and smooth enough to undulate somewhere near your heart. You hear that from Rachel McBride’s cello in “Fifth Wall” atop Zak Hanna’s guitar dirge and Evan Clarke’s straightforward drumming.
But most surprising, aside from her acoustic accompaniment to most song’s, is Liz Hysen’s unique singing voice that will win over more than a few fans of Catpower’s Chan Marshall. It’s a natural voice that starts from the soul and allows lyrics to be whispered from her mouth with perhaps a bit more resonance than what you and I might be able to muster. It’s not the importance of words in “No Name” that the listener will immediately focus on, but rather it’s the way that Liz shares these with you that is of more concern. But then noticing lyrics, a guitar’s slight harmonics dispersed throughout the song punctuate words that are fit to expose the listener: “…stop waiting, stop wanting, stop being.” Red Your Blues is a surprisingly strong and profound work from Picastro.