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Diamanda Galas: Guilty Guilty Guilty

April 2, 2008, 12:00 am
There is nothing easy about Diamanda Galas. Her famously versatile vocal range jumps up and down octaves with unnatural ease. Her song***image1*** choice - dark, murderous tunes - tosses romance into a pit of hell. At the piano, Galas skips her way across keys and seduces the instrument to follow her down a nightmarish path.

Galas' 17th album, Guilty Guilty Guilty, explores jazz and blues standards such as "Autumn Leaves,"? "Down So Low"? and "Long Black Veil"? but leaves behind not a hint of what these songs once were. Galas isn't performing for an audience to sing along, but instead to plant them firmly in their seats, frozen by otherworldly vocals.

Guilty Guilty Guilty, which, except for two songs, was recorded on Valentine's Day 2006 in New York City, is a live album. But unlike many live albums, the audience plays almost no part. It is not until the second to last song - a nine-minute version of "O Death"? - that stunned claps remind us that there is no manipulation to Galas' vocals. From her, the familiar tune sounds not like a folk song, but a howling pack of wolves and the mysterious creature that took Robert Johnson's soul at the crossroads.

Guilty Guilty Guilty


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