News, Culture and NPR for Central & Northern Michigan
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
91.7FM Alpena and WCML-TV Channel 6 Alpena are off the air. Click here to learn more.

Songs We Love: Samara Lubelski, 'Driver, In Your Car'

Samara Lubelski.
Courtesy of the artist
Samara Lubelski.

If one were to process the entirety of New York City mainstay Samara Lubelski's musical output, which has officially crossed the three-decade mark, the expectation of a record like The Gilded Raid would likely appear. An avid participant in projects that skirted the lines between folk, pop, Goth, psychedelia, noise and the avant-garde (across a resume including The Sonora Pine, Hall of Fame, Tall Firs and Thurston Moore's post-Sonic Youth project Chelsea Light Moving), not to mention a seasoned studio engineer on works by Ted Leo & the Pharmacists, Black Dice and Oneida, Lubelski's contributions to modern music have struck left, right and center of all the moments she's occupied.

<em>The Gilded Raid</em> (Drawing Room 2016).
/ Courtesy of the artist
Courtesy of the artist
The Gilded Raid (Drawing Room 2016).

The Gilded Raid, Lubelski's eighth solo album, builds upon the hallmarks she has set across her previous singer-songwriter efforts, with a breathy, feather-light touch to her vocals and an internal compass guiding her work down the less obvious paths. However, on The Gilded Raid, the edges become crispier, the gravity more delirious, through 15 fragile strains of intoxicatingly unsettled cotton-candy psych. "Driver, In Your Car" draws deep into the wilds of that approach, providing a gently shaken-up narrative that may or may not be about an abduction attempt, its storyteller potentially eager to go, focusing on the fantastical aspects of her surroundings ("Underneath the tower lights/skyscrapers grow at night").

Lubelski's singing style recalls another NYC artist on the pop fringe: Margo Guryan, whose sole album, Take A Picture, was slowly discovered and revered by collectors outside of the late '60s backdrop within which it disappeared. But the approach here skews closer to other Big Apple instigators of the past: Bongwater, that performance-minded duo of Ann Magnuson and producer Kramer, whose druggy, outsized avant-pop works toasted the city's underground throughout the late '80s. If it seems odd that Lubelski pushes this vector on her sound so late in her career, one only needs to look at her background and body of work. This is no mere filter, no attempt to capitalize on the current wave; in reality, those who've been paying attention should've heard this coming, and those new to her musical experience merely need to focus on the oil slick spreading rainbows across its surface.

The Gilded Raid comes out June 10 on Drawing Room.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit

Doug Mosurock