Diana Darby – I V (Intravenous)
A series of personal misfortunes tarried the arrival of Diana Darby’s fourth album, her first since 2005’s The Magdalene Laundries. Yet despite a troubled genesis, I V’s brittle folk lacks emotional impact. There are positives: Darby’s whispered vocals are refreshingly modest, and her preferred recording approach – single-takes, sparse arrangements – fosters a confessional air that helps salvage some of the stumbling poeticisms in the lyrics.
But others are beyond rescue: guileless and exposed lines like “If love were a song / would you play me a tune?”, for instance, cry out for a little less transparency. You can imagine it working better in live performance, where the aura of intimacy is stronger, and likely to draw out whatever insight might be locked within a track like Ugly Little Toad (a symbolic creature “sitting by the road”, in a pondering that goes nowhere). On record, unfortunately, I V’s simplicity grips attentions only weakly.