Boise has already seen Edith Frost. Now we get to see heirloom-strain Edith Frost.
Over the last decade, the Chicago-based singer and songwriter has had plenty of ink spilled in support of her three albums, the quiet country-rocker Calling Over Time in 1997, a crashing, psychedelic burst titled Telescopic in 1998, and, in 2001, the "let's get stoned and use every instrument we can think of" pop potion Wonder Wonder. Each was a progression in terms of production effort, but unfortunately, each also progressively insulated listeners from Frost's rare ability to create intricate, genre-hopping songs using nothing more than a guitar and her remarkable, breathy voice.
But it looks like she got the message. After a three-year hiatus, Frost released an album of demos from Wonder Wonder and Telescopic. (It's available online, for free, www.comfortstand.com.) Then, she toured, including a first visit to Boise, where she played such delicate versions of her former plush concoctions, they were hardly recognizable. But the change was welcome.
Now Frost comes full circle with her new album, It's A Game, a total throwback to her 1997 debut--except that I actually prefer It's A Game. Lyrically, it's very similar to her previous work: all impending breakups, low self-esteem and wondering why men don't say "I love you" enough to women. But stylistically, Frost keeps some lessons from her middle albums. Most prominently, she keeps harmonizing with herself. Check out the all-Edith choir on the gorgeous folk dirge "Larger Than Life." Her stabs at classic country and classic pop, "Lovin' You Goodbye" and "Lucky Charm," are equally slick and timeless. Whether singing super-low or super-shrill, Frost's polyphony is both creepy and poignant. Hearing how she interprets it live this time around will be equally so.