Spine-Tingling New Albums by Two Powerful Chanteuses

Gemma Ray and Brigid Mae Power bring on the heat.

Gemma Ray
The Exodus Suite

Brigid Mae Power
Brigid Mae Power
Tompkins Square

Courtesy of Chromatic Publicity

Once upon a time, the notion of mood music signified the kind of easy-listening slush that record companies tried to sell as lounge culture back in the ’90s. Today, all manner of credible artists prefer carefully crafted atmospherics to rock’n’roll bravado. Britain’s Gemma Ray has been releasing transfixing albums since 2008, and The Exodus Suite is one of her best. Languid tempos, dreamy melodies and Ray’s coolly insinuating vocals add up to spooky, spine-tingling fun—dig that eerie funhouse organ on “Ifs & Buts” and “We Are All Wandering”—even as sobering themes of global strife and techno-stress inform her narratives. She’s be the perfect choice to score the next James Bond movie.

After Ray’s film-noir poise, Ireland’s Brigid Mae Power comes off like a full-blown lunatic on her terrific self-titled debut. Framed by spare acoustic arrangements that beautifully showcase her strong, delirium-tinged voice, Power gives a riveting portrayal of a restless, disembodied spirit from another dimension, searching desperately for peace and finding scant solace. From the wild-eyed eight-minute opening track, “It’s Clearing Now,” to the sweetly unnerving “How You Feel,” Power makes an overwhelming first impression.