Before Big Thief became indie-folk-rock fans’ favourite band, their singer Adrianne Lenker released three solo albums: Stages of the Sun (2006), Hours Were the Birds (2014) and Abysskiss (2018). This time around, the folk fairy does even more with even less. Sat alone with her acoustic guitar, she recorded this double album (available separately under the simple titles Songs and Instrumentals) in a cabin in the Berkshires in Massachusetts. You can hear the wood crackling. Birds and insects as well. And even her fingers sliding around on her strings.
With every second, the real world slips away a little more. And her fragile voice is like a magnet that pulls you into every melody... She explores classic themes like loneliness, break-up and regret with a hypnotizing, stripped-back sound that brings the likes of Vashti Bunyan, Judee Sill, Elliott Smith and Joni Mitchell (obvious influences for the Big Thief singer). Adrianne Lenker often uses repetition, like on the moving song Come where you can hear the rain outside. Sometimes, it’s space that she focuses on (My Angel). Each song is soft and intimate.
The two long instrumental pieces (21 and 16 minutes) that make up the second part require more attention but prove to be totally in line with the songs on the first record. You’re left stunned by just how refined both albums are. A sublime work that will easily stand the test of time.