Eau Claire: S/T (Clairecords, 2005)
Take Jessica Balliff, Rachel Goldstar, and Alan Sparhawk, place them in a recording studio, and you get a project called Eau Claire. Eau Claire is a collaboration between Jessica Balliff and Rachel Goldstar (Experimental Aircraft) with Alan Sparhawk as producer and recording engineer. The songs are a mix of singer-songwriter and blissed out dreampop. Coupled with the angelic vocals of Goldstar and Balliff, this short ep is worth every penny spent on it. It’s spacious, beautiful, and utterly blissful.
“Freefall” begins the ep with blissful fuzz that lays a foundation for the rest of the album. This changes into fantastic, spacey keys and angelic female vocals. To be honest, Balliff and Goldstar’s voices make me swoon. They are perfect and they really draw you in amidst the slow-tempo fuzz. “Freefall” is slow, patient, and perfectly timed. “Soaring” begins with a sort of windy silence and a low rumble. This soft noise then blends with an acoustic guitar floating on top of it. When the rumble fades a bit, the vocals come in and, once again, the sweet, angelic voices come out of the speakers. “Soaring” is over nine minutes long and never, ever gets boring. Eventually, the noise in the background takes on a more structured feel that is beautiful and spacey.
“For Times” begins with acoustic guitar and some sprinkles of keys and really cool knocking in the background. This has a more singer-songwriter feel to it, but the other more ambient/dreampop elements are still present. The track ends in a rather cool mix of eerie sounds and backward samples. “Song For” completes this all too short Ep and begins with acoustic guitar, fuzz, noises, and jingle bells. Balliff and Goldstar deliver ExAir style vocals. This song has a slow/medium tempo and really showcases their careful songwriting and their ability to be patient and allow the song to play itself out. The song eventually fades out into a slow murmur of humming undertones.
Rachel Goldstar and Jessica Balliff deliver a solid, beautiful four songs. The only criticism I really have is that the ep is too short. Go buy it now!