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Review: Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions, 'Until The Hunter'

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify playlist at the bottom of the page.

Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions, <em>Until The Hunter</em>.
/ Courtesy of the artist
Courtesy of the artist
Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions, Until The Hunter.

Even if you've never heard Hope Sandoval's music, you'll know her M.O. well before the end of Until The Hunter's first song: This is an artist who takes her time. For the nine minutes "Into The Trees" takes to unfold, the singer coos a few words in a drowsily longing whisper — "I miss you" — over a bed of organs. The song doesn't aim for any particular destination, opting instead for a pleasant, if vaguely unsettled, amble through the fog.

From there, Sandoval — with the aid of Warm Inventions collaborator Colm O'Ciosoig, himself a veteran of My Bloody Valentine — reverts to more of the ingredients that made her band Mazzy Star a beloved (if unlikely) hitmaker back in the early '90s. A familiar slide guitar shimmers through "The Peasant," while the luminous gloom of "The Hiking Song" finds notes of uplift through gentle acoustic fingerpicking, the sweep of strings and other glimmers of 3 a.m. intimacy.

Best of all, in "Let Me Get There," Sandoval finds a perfect foil in Philly rocker Kurt Vile, whose cool drawl provides a perfect match for her dreamier vibe. Fans of Mazzy Star might not expect Sandoval to fully sell lines like "It's all in the groove." But when she sings those words in tandem with Vile, it sounds like a mission statement for an artist who's still finding subtle and appealing ways to loosen up and let in the light.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)