If Sea Oleena’s last album was “three seasons worth of endless nights and half-lived days,” Shallow probably didn’t result in much more shut-eye. The album is only seven tracks long, but in those 43 minutes, Shallow manifests an environment of awake-too-late-at-night consciousness. Sea Oleena’s Lefse debut positions Charlotte Loseth in the center of an ambient night-dream, and then pulls the listener into the foggey fray.
Shallow unfolds slowly with If I’m, a dark, piano-sprinkled dirge with Oleena’s voice dipped in a faded gray wash of reverb. To Hold moves with timid precision, textured by blurred strings and soft rushes of tape hiss. But Loseth doesn’t shy from revealing herself without affected vocals and looped instrumentals. In Shallow and Everyone With Eyes Closed, you can actually hear Loseth breathing; these are bare, unadorned moments that reveal the album’s vulnerability despite the overall fullness of the tracks. And then certain songs (Shades Of Golden, To Hold) find Oleena’s easy vocals floating into the background, fusing to the instrumentation in a gentle but sticky way, looking for security.
Shallow is comfortably processed, warmed by its own unjarring textural washes. As with Loseth’s past releases, it’s intentionally easy to sink into the album as one entire work rather than as a series of songs. Vinton, LA at more than 11 minutes long, surges, just barely, to the surface and crackles back into itself. This deeply internal structure lends itself to sunken, insulated listens—every moment folds calmly into the next.
At the album’s conclusion, Paths whispers through barely touched strings, never skipping or rushing to a peak. Shallow is without any obvious moments of grandeur, playing like multiple variations on one color shade. But this dynamic lack is only further proof of Loseth’s comfort in what she’s doing. And it’s impossible not to be comforted with her.