Since 2009, folkie songstress Beth Jeans Houghton has attracted attention playing in support of such conspicuous acts as St. Vincent, Bon Iver, and Mumford & Sons. Releasing only a single and an EP over that time, it feels like eons have passed since she started generating some heat in the fast-moving indie blogosphere. Her debut album has been a long time coming, but the two-year wait has yielded an end product that’s been caringly crafted well beyond what you’ll hear on most first albums.
The 21-year-old singer injects appreciable doses of psychedelia and glam into modern folk rock. Loop-laced chamber folk peppered with oddball effects, Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose is an alluring, heady trip, at times recalling a Court and Spark-era Joni Mitchell with shades of David Bowie’s Hunky Dory lurking in the wings.
Houghton shows great range across the 10-track set, from the propulsive, rocking opener Sweet Tooth Bird to winsome closer Carousel, stacking charming eccentricities in every possible opening. Lead single Dodecahedron was purportedly inspired by a dream, and Houghton gives it a properly surreal vibe thanks to sweeping flourishes of orchestral instrumentation. Later, an operatic chorus of voices bursts wildly free in Humble Digs. The Barely Skinny Bone Tree is a fragile and genuinely creepy number, her voice airing out the melody over cautious plucking. Houghton’s all over the place here, but in a good way.
With Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose, Houghton and her Hooves deliver on all of the buzz she garnered two years ago, picking up right where she left off after a long absence. Houghton did well not to squander all that good will, with the amount of care that went into making this album brimming out from every song. Unless she pulls another disappearing act, 2012 should be a huge year for the young singer.
Essential Songs: Humble Digs, Dodecahedron, and The Barely Skinny Bone Tree