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As Widowspeak, Molly Hamilton and Robert Earl Thomas combine hazy dream pop, country twang, and indie pop jangle into music that's understated yet filled with moods that linger. The group's sound was at its foggiest on 2011's Widowspeak, where Thomas cranked out walls of distortion that cocooned Hamilton's moody murmurs. Over time, however, their music grew more refined and varied on albums such as 2015's All Yours, which added sparkle to their songwriting and sound, and on 2017's heavier and more aggressive Expect the Best. With 2020's mellow yet politically minded Plum and the dreamy reflections on creativity and change on 2022's Jacket, Widowspeak made increasingly timeless and relevant music. The band's roots go back to Hamilton's time in the Tacoma, Washington music scene, where she and drummer Michael Stasiak contributed songs to a compilation before heading to New York. The pair brought Thomas into the fold in 2010, and later that year the trio used a laptop and GarageBand to craft a six-song cassette dubbed The October Tape. Captured Tracks signed Widowspeak and issued the band's debut single, Harsh Realm, in March 2011. The Gun Shy single, which featured a cover of Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game," followed in June. To make their self-titled debut album, Widowspeak recorded with Woods' Jarvis Taveniere. Released in August 2011, Widowspeak won acclaim for its dark, hazy, drawling songs. After Widowspeak finished touring in support of the album, Stasiak departed the band. Now a duo, Hamilton and Thomas began work on their second album in early 2012. Recorded with Kevin McMahon at an old barn in the Hudson River Valley, January 2013's Almanac, highlighted the folky and Fleetwood Mac-like elements of their sound. Late that year, Widowspeak issued the Swamps EP, which they described as a bridge between their previous work and their upcoming material. Shortly after those releases, Hamilton and Thomas relocated to Saugerties, New York and took a break from the grind of recording and touring. As they took jobs and returned to school, they wrote songs at a gradual pace, and reunited with Taveniere to make their third album. Arriving in August 2015, All Yours also featured Woods drummer Aaron Neveu and delved deeper into Almanac's velvety country and classic rock leanings. Following a stint in Tacoma and a return to Brooklyn, Widowspeak recorded at Marcata Recording, contrasting Hamilton's contemplative lyrics with a heavier sound thanks to the presence of touring bassist Willy Muse and drummer James Jano in the studio. Released in August 2017, Expect the Best was a darker set of songs influenced in part by the 2016 presidential election. Not long after the album appeared, Widowspeak covered Neil Young's "Harvest Moon." Once again, Thomas and Hamilton moved to upstate New York and took some time away from the band. During this time, Thomas issued his debut album, 2018's Another Age. When it was time to make Widowspeak's next album, the duo recorded with producer Sam Evian (who also played bass and synth), drummer Andy Weaver, and pianist Michael Hess. Taking inspiration from the principles of wabi-sabi as well as late-stage capitalism, Plum appeared in August 2020. In January 2021, Widowspeak issued the Honeychurch EP, a companion piece to Plum that featured songs written while they were making that album, as well as covers of R.E.M.'s "The One I Love" and Dire Straits' "Romeo and Juliet." Thomas and Hamilton pursued Plum's themes of creativity and worth further on March 2022's Jacket, which began as a concept album about a fictional band and evolved into a looser approach. Recorded after the duo returned to New York City at the Diamond Mine, it featured production by Daptone collaborator Homer Steinweiss and contributions from Hess, bassist J.D. Sumner, and founding drummer Stasiak.
© Heather Phares /TiVo
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