MASCOTT: Art Project [Red Panda]

Mascott is the art project of Manhattanite Kendall Jane Meade, a seraph-voiced singer and sometime Off-Broadway songwriter. Conversely, Art Project could rightly be read as her mascot: Its nine songs (many less than three minutes long) are both short and endlessly sweet, and its vibe is simultaneously downtown-sleek and small-town-simple. Over jingling bells and plinking synths, Meade sings of hours floating and of something growing, of how sleeping dogs lie and wanting to make it all right. It’s nothing earth-shattering, but there’s an airy charm in her childlike delivery and a blessed practicality to her untangled arrangements, most notably in the easy cadence of early highlight “4th Of July.” The exceptions to this rule on Mascott’s third album are also interesting, even if they feel somewhat forced. Her spoken-word vocals on “Like Letting Go Of The Sun” creepily straddle a Beatlesque, “Because”-borrowed arpeggio, while painstaking ballad “Red Flowers” lacks the conviction of, say, Jennifer O’Connor, who provides backup vocals on two Art Project tracks. But all of that is forgotten on honey-dripping closer “Wildwood Flower,” a strummy number that T-Bone Burnett ought to be eyeing for his next O Brother, Where Art Thou? hoedown. It’s Meade’s most affecting tune on Mascott’s most affectionate and tuneful collection. []

—Noah Bonaparte Pais