Album Review: Kaia

Two Adult Women in Love (Jealous Butcher)

[SINGER-SONGWRITER] Few solo artists can mesmerize a room the way Kaia Wilson does. There's no one reason for this. Despite making music for the past two decades, Wilson retains a nervous energy onstage that endears her to audiences. She's also kind of a heartthrob. And, perhaps most important, even as the ex-Team Dreschie's songs grow more refined and mature—something Two Adult Women in Love evidences—Wilson keeps her heart on her sleeve, for graceful or for awkward, in every one of them. So her concerts are, invariably, singalong affairs.

Two Adult Women in Love is a singalong, too. Most of its 14 tracks find Wilson singing with herself, Elliott Smith-style, over acoustic guitars, distant pedal steels and a sparse campfire rhythm section held down by old Team Dresch bandmates Jody Bleyle and Marci Martinez. When songs get extra Girl Scout-y—as on "The Rogue," a particularly hummable song about "the amazing sea turtle"—an in-studio choir is collected.

The album title may read politically while gay marriage dominates headlines, but the collection is universal: When she's not singing about animals or mountains, Wilson is giving air to her insecurities and innermost thoughts. On "When My Hair Was Long," Wilson is at her most relatable: "Remember those times we fought like elk in rut/ Remember those times when you stole the breath from my gut/ Remember how hard we loved and how hard we hurt/ It's been four years, I'm still sleeping in your shirt."

Sometimes Wilson is best when she's elusive. "Ice Lake" is a rather inscrutable fist-pumping punk song in the guise of a breathless acoustic ballad. It reaches its emotional plateau with an utterly personal couplet: "These are the ones we're drawn to/ Melodies and the sand dunes."

That Wilson successfully closes her album with "Beholden," a duet with a dog, should explain just how able a songwriter she has become—and also how much fans like me are willing to trust her.

SEE IT: Kaia Wilson plays Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Ave., on Friday, June 15. 9 pm. $8 advance, $10 day of show. 21+.