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Tiny Vipers
Life On Earth
Sub Pop
July 7th, 2009
On The Side

Jesy Fortino, the sole member of Tiny Vipers, fortifies her expansive folk songs with silences and pauses. Her voice rings out across the blanks, her acoustic guitar’s plucked half-chords glisten and blink, like something drifting into a milky fog bank.

Her second album stretches and extends the whispered melodies of her debut disc, expanding like quarter-time, hungover mirror images of the quirky folk rock songs on Hands Across the Void. Washes of finger-picked guitar slip to the floor on “Dreamer,” Fortino’s words slide in and out of hearing range as she calls back to some slow-running companion, singing, “I’m dying for a way.” The track’s slow crescendo and threadbare progression begin to accumulate space and emotion until breaking like an oncoming wave with the songstress’ lively howl ratcheting upward in pitch.

“Time Takes” shuffles forward on crushed guitar strokes, cracking apart into an ambient din as Fortino takes stock of things lost or fading. This tendency toward ambient experimentation is revisited and further explored in the haunting sustain and feedback swells of “Twilight Property,” with Fortino’s elastic voice seemingly conversing with itself amid the aural rubble

The album’s ten-minute title track smolders over droning powerchords and flicked harmonics, Fortino’s voice eventually devolving into tranced mumbles. Life On Earth’s most beautiful moments sneak up from behind familiar folk tropes or clichéd phrases and occur when Fortino’s voice and guitar lock into a pure emotional outpouring. When Fortino’s multi-tracked voice kicks in on “Tiger Mountain,” the quiet song takes on a tidal weight compared to the previous compositions and the whistled coda shimmers.

Many tracks become an almost voyeuristic experience, like listening to a mysterious neighbor practicing a song they’ve never performed in public. The silences and bare spots where Fortino displays her soul are sometimes draining, but this set of scorched-earth folk tunes is an engaging, personal meditation on loss and memory.

Favorite Track: “Tiger Mountain”

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Reviewer Bio - Christopher j Ewing is a writer and filmmaker living in Los Angeles with a girl and a designer dog. He is in a band by himself, has a myspace account at and a production company at ( for freelance film, video and journalism work.

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