‘Tuned In’ review: Shadowy spiritualism puts Aimee Wilson’s ‘Sun’ in eclipse

Aimee Wilson's 'Unto Us the Sun'

Aimee Wilson's "Unto Us the Sun"

Aimee Wilson is a determined artist who sticks to her vision on her new “Unto Us the Sun,” so if nothing else, she deserves praise for her uncompromising integrity.

However, her release doesn’t generate much enthusiasm.

Wilson, a native of Tennessee who is now based in Philadelphia, wrote material for “Unto Us the Sun” on Lookout Mountain, near Chattanooga, and the result is a high-concept spiritual album.

Although the music is rooted in the Sacred Heart/shape-note style of some Southern Protestants, “Unto Us the Sun” is in no way a conventional Christian album. The instrumentation is trippy, her vocal delivery is an unvarying nervous tremble, and she goes deep inside herself for opaque lyrics. Also, the songs are more free-form in structure, which makes “Unto Us the Sun” sound like offbeat musical theater.

And if she hasn’t already turned off enough people with her spiritual-but-peculiar music, Wilson goes one step further with stubbornly stark, sound-alike arrangements, overlong tracks with tediously uneventful stretches that invite distraction, and that affected vocal that irritates in the long run.

Nevertheless, the self-indulgent proceedings hit some highs — the enthralling choir in “Detroit,” the momentum push on the title track, absorbing mantras like “And I am knowing, and I am growing” (“Crux”) and “I will have my way” (“Have My Way”). ...

Ultimately, however, “Unto Us the Sun” sounds like a hard-to-follow minstrel show staged in the opium-den basement of a funeral home.

There’s an audience out there that will find Wilson’s singular style strangely compelling. But it’s a very small audience.

Rating: 2 stars (out of five)

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