Calgon, take me away!

by Jennifer Schneider

Susan Enan’s folk-infused pop possesses an ethereal quality inviting anyone trying to describe it to pull out some classic music clichés: haunting, evocative, like a warm embrace. I should point out that I placed her latest disc in my car stereo directly on the heels of American Hi Fi’s “The Art of Losing”- anything would sound soothing after that. Still, at the risk of sounding like a press release, Enan’s music truly feels like a balmy bubble bath after a hellish day at work.

The opening chords of “Moonlight” are warm and full. Drums linger softly in the background, allowing the Northern Ireland performer’s sultry vocals and Jez Carr’s supple piano playing to bask in the limelight. But rather than resemble the dreaded Muzak you’re forced to listen to while sitting in the dentist’s chair, the song ebbs and flows its way through the melody, concluding with a tiny, bluesy surge of tension.

The second track, “If you’re feelin’ low,” bounces around with the nonchalant authority of an early Joni Mitchell tune. Steve Lawson’s bass and Enan’s acoustic guitar repeat the same buoyant riff to exhaustion, determined to make the song’s comforting message sink in: “When everything seems driven by the dollars and the pounds / If you’re feelin’ low / Don’t let it get you down / Today will be a shadow when tomorrow comes around / If you’re feelin’ low / Don’t let it get you down.” “Skin, bone & silicone” and a clean, live performance of “Bird” round out the EP.

My only fear with Enan is that an entire album’s worth of sentimental material like this might lead listeners down a Sarah McLachlan-type path. Yes, her voice is lovely, but what the sleep-inducing lullabies do more than anything is inspire you to settle down for a long winter’s nap.

Yet even with this danger lurking in the distance, “Moonlight / Skin, bone & silicone” accomplishes what any good single should do: It leaves you hankering for more.

Susan Enan will perform at 8 p.m. tonight at the 400 Bar, (612) 332-2903, 21+, $7. She also will perform at 8 p.m., Friday, April 18 at Ginkgo Coffeehouse, (651) 645-2647, All Ages, Free.

Jennifer Schneider welcomes comments at [email protected]