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The Phantom Tollbooth

For those new to Morella's Forest, Tiny Lights of Heaven is pure pop featuring what Big Beef Records calls Sydney Rentz's "beautiful and alluring" vocals. If you're familiar with the band, you may have been disappointed with the vocals being mired underneath instrumentation. Good news: unlike 1996's Ultraphonic Hiss, guitars here are lighter, also bringing a sweet balance to Rentz's voice, keyboards, and drums. From the outset, "Running" and throughout most of Tiny Lights of Heaven, many songs are in a pure pop vein, reminiscent of Belinda Carlisle or the Halo Friendlies. There are excellent lyrics in "Shining Stars," "Lullaby," "Sand and the Sea" (much of Tiny Lights may be too '60s retro for many listeners; this one is perhaps a bit too close to "The Girl from Ipanema"), and "Never Let Go."

Unlike other projects I've heard from Morella's Forest from their Tooth and Nail days, the listener will find at least two from this collection of the "sticks in my mind" and "I'm humming it all day long" quality. On the other hand, the absence of heavier guitars as featured on the band's previous T&N recordings may be too much of a gear shift for some fans. This project is very short (tracking in less than 40 minutes). Overall, Tiny Lights of Heaven is a very pleasing project and a move in the correct direction for Morella's Forest.

- Olin Jenkins


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