Praises is the solo project from Jesse Crowe, one half of Toronto’s ambient Dream-Pop band Beliefs. Her debut album, In This Year: Ten of Swords, is a reflective and intimate personal communication of powerful emotions. The title refers to the tarot card symbolizing defeat, betrayals and loss and is indicative of the music’s somber delivery. The sound is dark and ominous with Crowe’s soft vocals heightening the haunting appeal.

Crowe played and recorded all instruments on the album while Beliefs bandmate Josh Korody mixed and produced the album. Described as “deeply personal and highly fictionalized”, the album invites the listener into personal truths while maintaining an element of mystery. It is a sincere and simple portrayal of self-expression.

“Love Unkind”, the first single off the album, sets the stage for a dreamy, washed out sound scape. Her sweet vocals sound peculiarly soothing against the heart-beat paced synths. She then rolls into “All Demon’s Reign” with hushed vocals layered on gentle piano tones that bleed into a distorted background and powerful chorus.

“Prey” creates a feeling of unrest and vulnerability with its discordant eerie intro. The video features Crowe contorting in solidarity, paradoxically flashing between nature and a dark room. Soft echoed synth beats compliment her subtly powerful vocal expressions.

A-tonal chiming is featured in “Welcome Home” and the repetition of “it’s not your fault” emphasizes self-assurance in solo dialogue. A combination of consonant and dissonant reverberations in “Run” evokes melancholic anguish in whispered despair.

“Three of Swords” leads further into delicate solemnity. The name itself is foreboding, referring to the tarot card symbolic of grief, sorrow and heartbreak. The reverse of this card, however, represents recovery and forgiveness, perhaps providing hope for a better outcome.

With simple backbeat and a slow percussive melody, “Anyone’s Anyone” vocalizes self-reliance and empowerment. “C to C” eases in with rolling resonances and slightly pained singing. The last track “Closer” draws the listener in further with enhanced evocative elements that fades slowly into absolution.

Genuine emotion is inspired through the invitation into such a personal and private musical expression in this album.

Nicole Swanson