No, they’re not and, yes, they are. The three white North Carolina women of Blackgirls perform intricate chamber music on acoustic guitar, violin and piano, creating an uncommon art-folk/classical hybrid with occasional Celtic inflections. But singer/songwriters Eugenia Lee and Dana Kletter both have dry, unsteady voices and a taste for cuteness and/or neurotic hypersensitivity in their lyrics. Combined with the dizzying polyrhythmic tides of the instrumental/vocal arrangements on Procedure, the accomplished music is charmless and uninviting.
With Joe Boyd (of Fairport Convention fame) again providing a crystalline production job, Blackgirls refine and smooth out their art (if not their diary-entry lyrics) on Happy, a sophisticated and accomplished-sounding record that seems, for the first time, to acknowledge the possible presence of an audience. While a lot of the album sticks to its predecessor’s choppy complexity, the arrangement of “Charleston” is simplified to the point of easy appeal.