Exploding in Sound
It’s hard to pin Ellen Kempner down. Recording as Palehound, the Boston native just produced a smart, engrossing debut album (following a strong EP), which deftly juggles skittish rockers and woozy ballads, covering a dizzying amount of ground in less than a half-hour. Her lyrics can be intriguingly oblique, than come into sharp, funny focus for tart stories of desperate need and fumbled connections. “I’m pushing back your tongue/With my clenched-teeth home security system,” she croons languidly on “Easy,” fending off a “swollen, sickly guest”; in the toe-tapping “Cushioned Caging,” which would be a big hit in a better world, she concedes, “I knew you were a close call/I loved you/It’s all my fault.” Throughout Dry Food, Kempner’s quietly emphatic voice is subtly compelling, inspiring great expectations for whatever she does next.