Gemma Ray’s Latest Is Fresh and Unsettling

Steve Gullick/Bronze Rat

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Gemma Ray
Milk for Your Motors
Bronze Rat

A perfect master of noir pop, British-born Gemma Ray turns a familiar recipe—twangy guitars, dreamy melodies, hazy rhythms and wistful voices—into something fresh and more than a little unsettling. Milk for Your Motors transcends artful background music because her songs are smart and unpredictable, encompassing the nostalgic desire of “When I Kissed You” (“I want to remember how I kissed you / ’round the back of the air-raid shelter”) and the gruesome dark comedy of “Waving at Mirrors” (“It was all a terrible mess / Which came from nothing less / Than a moment carelessly spent applying make up instead of driving”) Aching and wry at once, Ray is a mesmerizing presence, mixing brainy cool and genuine passion with precise skill. For added hipster cred, note cameos by Howe Gelb (Giant Sand) and Alan Vega (Suicide), who references his own classic “Dream Baby Dream” on the spooky “Out in the Rain.”

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