is a rare bird, a female auteur who can do it all. On Watch the Sky
she went into the studio alone and produced, wrote, sang, and played every note herself on a variety of instruments including toy organ, an old Casio keyboard, lap steel detuned and played with drumsticks, baritone guitar played with a violin bow, and assorted acoustic and electric guitars, basses, and drum machines and lots more. She's known for her amazing guitar style, which is in evidence here, but there's no flash for the sake of flash. Everything serves the song, with instruments adding mood and emotion to the pieces. "Hallelujah" is an uplifting, celebratory tune, full of hope and optimism that rides the chooglin' beat of a giant heart. Larkin
fills up the background with big chiming guitars that float through space to complement the chorus -- "Hallelujah baby, I'm fallin' for ya." It's an almost religious celebration of love that leaves you feeling all tingly inside. But its openhearted honesty sets it apart from most of the more impressionistic tunes here. "Traveling Alone" starts delicately with Larkin
's warm vocals and a simple baritone guitar figure, then the tune slips into an aching melancholy intensified by slow strummed chords. The ghostly music belies the repeated refrain "Traveling alone is a wonderful thing." The kids in "Hollywood" go to Tinseltown to make it big, but if the music is any indication, they didn't fare so well. Ominous echoing guitar chords, sounding like they're coming from the bottom of a dry well, float above ghostly keyboard textures that slowly fade to black. The mysterious, open-ended lyric implies an unhappy ending, while the track's abrupt end leaves the ending to your imagination. "Walking in My Sleep" is a jazzy torch song, with a lazy purring vocal from Larkin
that's slyly sexual. More spooky keyboards, softly moaning background vocals, a subtle hip-hop rhythm, and another oblique lyric add more mystery to the song. Watch the Sky
isn't exactly ambient, but Larkin
's moody, slightly disturbing compositions are complemented by music that floats in and out of focus. giving the songs a wide-open feel, while her singing maintains the intimate, almost confidential tone listeners are familiar with. Even though the message is often unclear, the hypnotic atmosphere is so seductive that you slowly surrender and let the music take you where it will.