The Impaler Speaks
Pebaluna - Carny Life

Pebaluna – Carny Life (

Ah, the life of a carny. Always on the road. New places every day. New adventures. Feel like wearing a different mask today, be someone else for awhile? Easily done, as a carny. That’s the glamorous take on the concept, at any rate, and with that take in mind, ‘Carny Life’ is an apt title for this gem of an album. Pebaluna – vocalist/multi-instrumentalist/mastermind Lauren Coleman, guitarist/vocalist/co-conspirator Matthew Embree, drummer Jessica Lankford, and bassist Jonathan Grillo – have embraced a wide-reaching group of influences in crafting their indefinable sound, from slinky jazz to swingin’ 60s soul to modern bluegrass. Coleman’s voice, which clearly is – with no disrespect to her uber-talented bandmates – the star of the show here, is a thing of beauty, with shades of Kelly Willis, Fiona Apple, Naimee Coleman (no relation of which I’m aware), and Beth Orton coloring the grooves of this impossible-to-ignore tour de force without taking away any of its originality or self-sustained power. Embree, of course, is well-known to indie punks (and punx!) as the driving force behind several bands, including RX Bandits and The Sound Of Animals Fighting, and adds as much to Pebaluna by letting Coleman take center stage as he does by providing a wealth of perfectly placed musical accompaniment to her wonderfully dominating presence. The rhythm section of Lankford and Grillo keep things on point throughout, whether that entails a tight funk groove, a smoky jazz shuffle, or an old-school Nashville swing. I’d normally point to highlights – or, at the very least, lowlights to save for later in order to get the feel of the album – but  ‘Carny Life’ is as perfect an early-morning album to enjoy with a cup of hot coffee as it is a perfect late-night album to accompany a wind-down-from-the-day cocktail – or, in other words, one of those rare albums that is nothing but highlights. Amazing. The Impaler @impalerspeaks

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