Amy O is the eponymous project of Brenda’s Friend collaborator and all-around adorable singer-songwriter Amy Oelsner. Featuring ten compositions that feel childlike without seeming naive, willowy without seeming insubstantial and familiar without seeming trite, Arrow tiptoes merrily along the border between top-secret diary entries and cheeky abstract poetry. Though the twee quality of Oelsner’s vocals may initially be a hard sell for some listeners, they never venture into the realm of affectation; her winning earnestness is likely to soften even the hardest of hearts. While the lead vocal is consistently strong, Oelsner’s voice paired with that of backing vocalist Madeline Robinson occasionally resembles slightly off-time double-tracking, especially when the two singers are echoing a single melody rather than harmonizing. However, when those distinct harmonies do emerge—such as on the sugary title track—they soar, improving even further with the addition of guitarist Chris Clements’ voice on the lazily wistful, twang-infused “Honeysuckle.” Overall, Arrow is another irresistible bittersweet treat from Amy O.
–Kelley O’Death (Let’s Pretend, [email protected], letspretendrecords.com)