Fans of Britain's Mojave 3 have probably noticed that the role of singer-bassist Rachel Goswell -- who has been the angelic vocal foil to major-domo Neil Halstead for fifteen years, ever since the duo's early-Nineties days as the core of shoegazers Slowdive -- dwindles with each new offering from the dreamy country-rock outfit. So it makes far more sense that she should step out with a solo debut than it did when Halstead dropped his own Sleeping on Roads in 2002.
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Similar to her compadre, the fruits of Goswell's efforts rarely fall far from the Mojave tree. Which, if you're an admirer, is a welcome thing. The greater part of Waves Are Universal revels in halcyon folkery; acoustic strums, piano tinkles, pedal steel, E-bowed guitar, chamber strings, Scottish pipes, and unobtrusive percussion coalesce to provide airy backdrops for her sweet voice (think a less druggy Hope Sandoval) and love-yearning lyrics. Generally the effect is captivating and summery, and only on "Gather Me Up" does she get a tad too precious. But the real grabbers are the darkly electric, PJ Harvey-esque "Save Yourself" and the six-minute "Coastline," an insistent, swirling piece that will have Slowdive fans jumping for joy. Though reaching into the past isn't necessary -- Goswell's current soft-folk bent yields many rewards -- more turbulent atmospherics would be plenty welcome on the next album. -- Michael Alan Goldberg