Brooklyn-based Filipino-Argentinian singer/songwriter Renata Zeiguer confronts memories, shadows, and the future in her second full album, Picnic in the Dark. The very image of having a picnic in the dark suggests waiting for the things that go bump in the night, to talk to them and perhaps defeat or understand them. With her ethereal sound, Zeiguer wanders her murky way through 12 tracks that move along superbly—urgent but never rushed.
Her lyrics in “Child” concern family and heredity—what’s carried forward. Zeiguer sings in a soft soprano against a background of undulating guitar (as if the sound’s warped) and a steady drumbeat, and the music matches the lyrics skillfully. The tone of the song is dusky, echoey, but the phrase “the light is you” brightens the space, revealing not only a realization occurring to the singer, but to the listener, who finds that this track is not only about looking back at the past, but toward the future. There’s something on the horizon, shining through.
Many songs have a dream-pop vibe. But the dreams aren’t wild and loose, floating off, lingering long enough to leave a distinct impression. To question them and consider them. A bit like Mitski colliding—gently—with the Cocteau Twins, Picnic in the Dark is mesmerizing. Even when there’s a shift between songs (as with “Burning Candles” to “Avalanche”), it’s done expertly. There’s a smoothness that belies a tempo change or a lessening of reverb and carries the listener along as easy as adjusting from a couch to a nearby bed. It is because Zeiguer is not only a great songwriter but a great listener. She listens and hears the music moving and moves with it, not just controlling it but letting it speak for itself.
Tracks like “Evergreen” and “Sunset Boulevard” are standout because of their solid rhythm combined with effortless vocals. Yet they don’t diminish the impact of the surrounding compositions. Perhaps it’s the mantra-like lyrics (like “calling in the angels” or “tell me when it’s over” from “Carmen”) or the consistent tone of backing instrumentals, never intrusive, lending a gentle layer. Whatever it is, Zeiguer has locked on her style and tugs the listener along for a gorgeous, darkly glittering ride under the stars. Daylight isn’t required for this picnic, as open ears are all that’s needed to absorb all the nuance and emotion each composition contains. Picnic in the Dark is a carefully laid feast of confession and melodic rumination.
Label: Northern Spy
Born in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, Konstantin Nicholas Rega currently attends East Anglia's famous MA in Creative Writing with the Ink, Sweat and Tears Scholarship. He is a professional musician, the former host/producer of Jazz Jams on CSRfm 97.4, and twice a Dan Veach Prize for Younger Poets finalist. He is the Fiction Editor for Crack the Spine and a contributor to The Black Lion Journal. He also blogs.