Aug 2023 05

Album CoverVenamoris
Album: Drown in Emotion
Category: Dark Pop / Rock
Label: Three One G Records
Release Date: 2023-02-10
Author: Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)


Paula and Dave Lombardo each have their own crosses to bear when it comes to their musical histories, none of which seems to impede on what the pair have crafted together on this, their debut as Venamoris. Those expecting Dave to flaunt his renowned fury on the skins might be surprised by the tasteful restraint he applies on Drown in Emotion, allowing the intimacy of Paula’s songwriting and piano playing to soak up the spotlight, her vocal harmonies glistening as they would for an accomplished nightclub chanteuse hypnotically lulling patrons into her world of heartache.

As such, there is an inherent jazziness to the album that might appeal more to fans of Portishead or even 12 Rounds, particularly on the ghostly waltz of the opening “Let Me Be,” Tyler Bates’ guitars resonating with the descending piano line. Even more evident of this is the closing “So Good” with its sultry swaying motions, the bluesy tone of the guitar, Paula’s virile yet vulnerable voice, along with Dave’s drum hits and fluttering keyboards all coming across like a romantic Sade song fused with the rocking swagger of Mark Knopfler.

Songs like “This is Me,” “Drowning Emotion,” “I Love It,” and “It’s Gone” are sure to transport listeners back to the saccharine ambient heyday of the ‘90s, with the latter track adding a bit more flavor with the organs, Tim Stewart’s light guitar, and the drum fills; it’s the kind of song that Don Henley might have contributed some uncredited backing vocals to at the height of his fame in that era. On the other hand, there is a rootsy country quality to “In My Silence” and more so “We Fall,” Jack Gibson’s slide guitar accentuating Paula’s sardonic lyrics of healing and perseverance, along with the playful use of “Ashes, ashes, we all fall down.”

“Crimson Tears” is, as the title suggests, a tearjerker of a ballad as the vocals take on a desperate tone searching for hopeful resolution, while Ra Diaz’s rhythmic bass, George Pajon’s guitar arpeggios, and Paula’s vocal cadences on “Tell Me How You Know” make for that perfect capper for last call at the lounge, Dave then entering with a bit of his Cuban roots as if to insist that the party continue. And then, there are songs like “Misguided” and “Oceans,” both bristling with distorted staccato drum hits and power chords, Paula’s voice almost serving as a snarky counterpoint, strutting confrontationally within the noise.

Paula’s voice and songwriting may be the primary focus, but Venamoris presents a true partnership as Dave Lombardo’s drumming and varied instrumentation does well to amplify his partner’s strengths. Supplemented by a few friendly guest performances, Drown in Emotion does just that, submerging the listener in veritable pools of heartfelt and poignant reverie. One might not consider it an essential listen, but for all of its stylistic fusion, there is a consistency and honesty to Drown in Emotion that makes it worthwhile.
Track list:

  1. Let Me Be
  2. We Fall
  3. This Is Me
  4. Crimson Tears
  5. Misguided
  6. Drowning Emotion
  7. I Love It
  8. In My Silence
  9. It’s Gone
  10. Tell Me How You Know
  11. Oceans
  12. So Good

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