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Mazzy Star @ Union Transfer.

November 25, 2013

Text by Brittany Thomas.

Standing almost eerily still among a tower of cascading candles, faintly distinguishable in the screen projected moon light, Hope Sandoval is even more sensually angelic in the flesh than when emanating from a speaker on a recording.

After a 17-year pause without producing new material, Sandoval’s Mazzy Star returned to the stage with a newly released album and the power to seemingly sedate the crowd. The very first note of the organ initiated perpetual chills, just as the first stroke of their signature slide guitar turned the audience into a congregation in silent attention to a shoe-gazey, sentimental sermon.

“Dude, it’s like an opium den in here. I’m high on Hope,” said some old-head hippie guy standing in the crowd, laughing ridiculously at himself.

And this statement was actually pretty on point if you were to judge what everyone’s face in my vicinity looked like – ogling and drooling while wrapping their bodies around significant others with Sandoval’s ethereal vocal radiating from the stage filled with smokey, purple-colored haze.

The set was a seamless, a damn near perfect mix of songs from the old albums and Seasons of Your Day, released in September, the first album since Among my Swan in 1996. With just three songs from Among my Swan, five from Seasons of Your Day, three from So Tonight That I Might See, and four from She Hangs Brightly, Mazzy curated a set conducive to fans old and new and those who have yet to hear the newest album. Even for those who were just hearing the new material for the first time, what better way? Seasons of Your Day feels like a long over-due continuation of their early albums. They are true to their sound, traditional Mazzy, but still fresh and haunting in a whole new way.

While Sandoval was clearly reading her lyrics off an iPad on a stand at her eye-level,  phones were banned from the show and this was strictly enforced by security.  The whole audience was completely respectful, though. In the age of Vine it, Instagram it, Facebook it, etc. etc. it was beautiful to not be distracted by glowing screens. Hope is a goddess. She wrote the lyrics. She can do what she wants.

Yes, “Fade Into You” was played three quarters of the way into the show and it felt more emotional than ever in its sentiments of dealing with an emotionally unavailable lover. That and “Halah,” “Blue Flower,” “Cry Cry,” “Ride it On” and other hits from the early years made the cut and sounded even more flawless and seducing than the recordings.

Without saying more than a gentle, nearly inaudible “thank you,” without moving more than to delicately, daintily move her harmonica to her lips, to tap the tambourine to her bare, skinny thigh, to elegantly scan through pages of touch-screen lyrics, Sandoval has an unforgettable grace that aligns so perfectly with her crooning, soothing lyricism.

The slide guitar – played live – can manipulate your pulse. Even in a crowded, sold-out show, Mazzy Star has the ability to make you feel alone with that voice, like she’s speaking directly to you, like nothing else in the room or the world deserve the attention she effortlessly obtains.

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