Colleen, the musical alter-ego of Cécile Schott, has never made conventional, immediate records. From her 2003 debut Everyone Alive Wants Answers, which was made entirely from looped samples, to her third and final album for Leaf, the more free-form Les Ondes Silencieuses, she became known for creating minimal, dreamlike ambient music.

She has been silent since 2009 when she took a break from music, and now she has returned with a brand new album and a fresh approach. The Weighing of the Heart is her first for the Second Language label and it heralds a new approach. Although it is released under the name Colleen, this again is very much a solo work by Cécile, as it is written, played, produced, recorded and mixed in its entirety by her. After ten years of making music, this album is the first to feature Cécile's voice. Her vocals sound assured and, like her ambient loops and found sounds on her earlier records, they are looped and layered to great effect.

What she has succeeded in doing on The Weighing of the Heart is to incorporate her voice into her music, without losing that feel she had when she was working instrumentally. It has also served to make Colleen's music more accessible, although anyone expecting conventional song structure will find themselves floundering at the tricks and twists that her arrangements create.

Her voice is there from the very beginning, overdubbed in layers of harmony as she intones us to 'Push the Boat Onto the Sand', repeating the title until it becomes trancelike, the reverie broken by sharp pizzicato strings halfway through the song. Like her previous releases the instrumentation is unconventional, her viola is tuned like a guitar and the percussion is very much to the fore. This percussion creates an organic rhythmic pulse which dovetails with the vocals on tracks like 'Break Away'. There are no beats as such but the rhythms are crucial, a method reminiscent of Moondog, who seems to have had a huge influence on Colleen's sound this time around, particularly on 'Going Forth By Day' where the strings give way to woodwind and drums, and 'Moonlit Sky' where the rhythm is built around the clarinet and organ parts.

This album is often is dream-like, other worldly, on the edge of a trance, as the music-box feel of 'Humming Fields' illustrates. The brief 'The Moon Like a Bell' is dreamy and almost all based around the voice. It takes a while to get into your head, but when it clicks it is very rewarding.

Refrains are pretty and melodic ('Ursa Major Find') and when there is a hint of conventional song structure on the likes of 'Raven' or the title track, the instrumental passages turn it on its head and take it elsewhere.

In terms of subverting the singer-songwriter motif and turning it into something new and genuinely strange, this album reminds me of Arthur Russell's The World of Echo. Songs are hinted at and then morphed into something you don't expect. That Colleen has managed to create a work this beautiful whilst developing her inventive music is something that should be applauded. This album is a genuine delight.