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.
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
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