For a singer-songwriter, the benefit of starting from a point of quiet is the room it allows for maneuvre afterwards. Such is the case with Lost in Light, the subtly cinematic second album from Sandra Sumie Nagano. On her 2013 debut, Sumie tapped into the mid-point between Scandinavian and Japanese folk music to deliver an album of blissful restraint, its quietude shaped by a combination of parenthood and natural inclination. The follow-up is an album of stealthy dynamism, drama and mystery, its impact made all the greater because it skirts obvious routes to dance just out of hand's reach, always seeming to be on the verge of departure.
Between its shivering percussion, hypnotic guitar, spectral poise and poetic evocations of rebirth, "Divine Wind" became the leap-off point that helped determine the potency in restraint of Lost in Light's other eight tracks. "Fortune" finds Sumie singing of "a storm under my skin" over a lonesome guitar, its surface becalmed and its subtexts deep; kindred spirit Peter Broderick guests, harmonizing warmly. "Night Rain" is like a waltzing soundtrack to a Euro-movie of fleeting romance, its Morricone-ish trumpet supporting the cinematic sensibility.
Nocturnal partings also underpin the Leonard Cohen-ish "Blue Lines," where Sumie's voice rings out sweet and pure over a plucked guitar. The soulful "Pouring Down" finds her singing of "cold rivers" over warm keys, while "Frö" ("seed") occupies a world unto itself, existing in a state of suspended rapture. "Leave Me" luxuriates over warm violins, recalling separations under "skies in black." The mood is impeccably sustained for the gorgeously lilting "The Only Lady," a riff on US-indie filmmaker Miranda July's novel The First Bad Man, with quotes from David Bowie's sweetly loved-up "Kooks" included. To close, "Walk Away" offers a final reverie on departures, its aching trumpet and plucked guitar building to the gentlest of crescendos.