It’s been nearly eight years, but L.A. singer-songwriter Miranda Lee Richards is back. Sophomore album Light of X continues where Richards left off, offering a dozen tracks that she has dubbed psychedelic chamber folk-rock.

Richards melds her ethereal vocals with a gentle lyricism, dusky melodicism and a wellspring of country, acoustic dream pop, folk and meditative melancholy. Songs like “Breathless,” “Life Boat” (released last year as a European single) and first stateside single “Early November” rival anything from likeminded artists.

For example, “Hideaway” marries Aimee Mann’s rueful honesty with Fiona Apple’s art-pop luster. Civil kiss-off “Savorin’ Your Smile” links Hope Sandoval’s slowcore sensuousness with the Cowboy Junkies sedative country tendencies. Reverb and subtle revolt ground the stirring anti-war ballad “That Baby.”

Light of X has a sepia tone that works best with detailed concentration, so listeners can tune into Richards’ hints, clues and intimate truths.

Grade: A



Light of X is currently available.