By Al Kaufman
To those in the know in Boston, Aloud was Henry Beguiristan wailing on the guitar and Jen de la Osa screaming out vocals, as well as a rhythm section that thundered along with them. The key word in that last sentence is “was.” Gone is the rhythm section. Beguirstain now gently strums on his guitars and mandolins, and de la Osa demonstrates that her voice is as beautiful as it is raucous.
With Exile, Aloud have redefined themselves as a moody and melodic duo. You can hear Beguiristan’s fingers crawl up the guitar strings on “Broken Hearts,” a song with a certain amount of Uncle Tupelo melancholy. There is some darkness there. “No one’s committed, so I often stray,” sings de la Olsa on “Exile in the Night.” It’s a song that would make Patti Smith proud, both lyrically and musically.
But just when it seems as if the CD has hit its dreary groove, along comes “Counterfeit Star,” driven by piano and horns and an almost disco beat. It is an angry wake-up call.
Beguiristan’s sleepy vocals are the perfect foil for de la Osa’s powerful and crystalline pipes. On “The Urgent Letter,” he is simply a hungover guy trying to write a note. It turns into an eerie battle between man and pen that somehow works.
If Exile does not end on a happy note, it at least ends on an utterly romantic one. “Paradiso lays wait/Dive with me to the bottom of the sea,” sings de la Osa on “To Die at Sea.” “The salt soothes a loud wound’s pain.” Yes, she may have died, but at least she has found true happiness, and a gorgeous happiness it is.