When a musician trots out their bedroom recordings, it’s a dicey proposition. Most times, it means that without a band or producer to pipe up, sonic fidelity takes a back seat to self-indulgence. Given that the strongest moments on Priya Thomas’s 2006 full-length You and Me Against The World Baby were full-band rockers, the fact that Blood Heron (Renovation Tracks) was recorded at home on an eight-track should be a warning sign. Surprisingly, the album stands with some of the best homespun work by folks like Sufjan Stevens and Bruce Springsteen.
With limited session players and garage sale instruments, the album simmers with ramshackle beauty. Thomas’s soulful voice is the focus, but how she transforms it from track to track is the real miracle. One minute she’s fronting Neutral Milk Hotel, then she’s belting out a Tom Waits B-side, then effortlessly she’s channelling PJ Harvey. Clearly, the album lacks a certain focus, as you might expect from a home-recorded outing, but the intensity and intimacy continues to draw one’s ear spin after spin.