The Burlington, Vermont-based singer has blended the traditional with the experimental, letting nostalgia and innovation flow together like changing tides. It’s a fluidity that marks the entirety of Kitz’s new work, reinforced even further by the album’s accompanying cover art: a deep-teal watercolor orb on a white palette, where each stroke of color bleeds into the next while somehow maintaining a fairly neat, cyclical pattern. In the words of his label, NNA Tapes, Dancing on Soda Lake represents “the gentle impermanence of its luminous song cycle, flowing freely back and forth between beauty and mystery, not unlike our own plasmic origins.” It's a rumination, washing over life’s deepest (and oldest) quandaries that ring true for each and every one of us, like how we connect or isolate ourselves from others.
A personal favorite off the album is the near eight-minute opus that is “Hold Him,” with its resonant tones that are reminiscent of the warbling echoes of the ocean floor. The song is introduced by an extremely deep, manipulated pitch, the kind you would associate with a whistleblowing confidante. Then it slips into more sedated tones, with the glide of guitar strings and a mumbling voice. Towards the end, spiraling beats take hold with a sound that falls somewhere between pressing all the buttons on a switchboard and water droplets falling into an empty glass. This delightfully strange array of sounds is offset by a folk-tinged female vocal accompaniment, turning “Hold Him” into a pastiche of sonic styles.
“Sleepin Dog” is another highlight, opening with those signature slow waves on the guitar, as Kitz’s voice whispers and delicately undulates, like the glimmer of a guiding light, “I miss talking with my friend / This neighborhood is sleeping.” While mostly subdued, the song has moments of spiked energy, fervent interludes which create the sensation that we’re on the cusp of something, but just what is uncertain. Breaking free from the existential musings that weigh us down? Perhaps.
Dancing on Soda Lake is a work built with soft edges and deep contemplation. The varied textures that Kitz provides leaves the listener's mind whirring, balancing feelings of familiarity and a sense of exploration. A visual comparison I kept returning to was Ophelia floating in the river (as portrayed by John Everett Millias). It’s gorgeous, with an emphasis on both the surrounding natural world and the nature of being human, and a melancholy that draws us in rather than pushing us away.