|Don’t Weigh Down the Light|
Meg Baird — Don’t Weigh Down the Light ≡ Předtím: více než deset let ve Philly s Espers. Spolupráce: Sharon Van Etten, Kurt Vile, Will Oldham, Bert Jansch, Steve Gunn. Teď toto třetí sólo album přináší: jiskřící efekt, nejvěrnější podobu jejího muzikantství, kytarovou hru, andělský hlasový rozsah, melancholickou poezii, odůvodněný sentiment, duchovní atmosféru, instrumentální textury, progresi. Srovnání: Sandy Denny, Jacqui McShee, Shirley Collins. Připomínka: Byrds a Joni Mitchell.
≡ An effervescent and modern third LP from underrated San Franciscan folk presence. Songs of memory and forgetting...within the architecture of shimmering guitars and melancholy light...razor sharp edge of her voice in your bones. Location: New Jersey ~~ Philadelphia, PN ~~ San Francisco, California
Album release: 23rd June, 2015
Record Label: Drag City/Wichita Recordings
Catalog: # DC632
01. Counterfeiters 3:27
02. I Don’t Mind 6:12
03. Mosquito Hawks 3:22
04. Back To You 4:19
05. Past Houses 5:04
06. Leaving Song 1:03
07. Stars Unwinding 5:24
08. Good Directions 5:24
09. Don’t Weigh Down the Light 5:42
10. Even the Walls Don’t Want You To Go 3:44
11. Past Houses (Reprise) 2:53
≡ Vinyl LP pressing. 2015 solo release from the San Francisco–based singer/songwriter best known for her work with Espers. Don't Weigh Down the Light is her first album since 2011’s Seasons On Earth, and it arrives alive with mystery and color–buoyed by a voice that's a warm, mesmerizing call across time. Like Meg’s previous LPs (and much of Espers output,) the foundation of Don’t Weigh Down the Light is her lyrical, precise, and propulsive fingerstyle guitar work and a voice that moves from soaring and tender to soothing and spellbinding. A voice that more than a few have likened to folk’s greatest female voices: Sandy Denny, Jacqui McShee, and Shirley Collins. Meg Baird's last decade would be remarkable by any artist's standards. She co–founded and recorded three albums with Espers–one of the most distinctive and hypnotic bands of the century's first decade. She recorded two solo LPs for Drag City — Dear Companion and Seasons on Earth. She also collaborated with Will Oldham, Kurt Vile, Sharon Van Etten, and Steve Gunn and toured with the legendary Bert Jansch. And while it’s been four years since her last release, the days since have been anything but restful. She played drums and recorded with Philadelphia cave punks Watery Love, and toured with Michael Chapman, Michael Hurley, Vile, Cass McCombs, Hiss Golden Messenger, and Lambchop. And after more than a decade as a fixture in Philadelphia’s boiling–over musical scene, Meg moved west to San Francisco where she joined forces (as drummer and lead vocalist) with members of Comets on Fire and Assemble Head to form the moody and thunderous Heron Oblivion. She also wrote and recorded Don't Weigh Down the Light. ≡ http://www.amazon.com/
OTIS HART, JUNE 14, 201511:03 PM ET
≡ Sunday–morning music is too often overlooked. For the most part, we check out music news while we're sitting at our desks at work, usually during a glance at our social–media feeds. That sort of interaction is inherently brief — we scroll, maybe click, and then it's back to the grind.
≡ Meg Baird makes music that's diametrically opposed to the grind, the type you listen to when you want to leave the working world behind. The San Francisco folksinger doesn't have a Facebook account, let alone a publicist to update such things for her. Her only timeline is a Discogs page that plainly lists her solo albums and collaborative projects, fittingly by years rather than minutes.
≡ This seeming disconnect with contemporary culture exists in her music, too. Baird got her start in the Philadelphia band Espers, one of the leading lights in an international psych–folk scene that flourished before the web as we currently know it really took off. (The band released its first album in 2004, two weeks before Mark Zuckerberg launched thefacebook.com.) Touchstones included British folk icons like Pentangle and Fairport Convention, and her affection for the Albion of old carried over to her own projects, beginning with 2006's spellbinding Leaves From Off The Tree.
≡ That album, recorded with Espers bandmate Helena Espvall and Sharron Kraus, conjured the songs of prerecorded British and Appalachian music. In the years since, Baird’s songwriting and production have evolved while staying true to her roots, to the point where her new album, Don’t Weigh Down The Light, sounds positively singular.
≡ Baird's control of her voice has improved with each album, and it’s never sounded more celestial than in “I Don’t Mind” and “Stars Unwinding.” Her words, which sometimes blur together in Liz Fraser fashion, float above a tapestry of dreamy electric guitar by partner Charlie Saufley; the result recalls the work of Baird’s old Philly friends in The War On Drugs.
≡ The record’s bucolic balm is summed up nicely in “Past Houses,” when Baird sings, “Brand–new words won’t get in the way / Of old sayings' magic, things that we need today.” Don’t Weigh Down The Light is exactly what many of us need today: a reminder that Sunday morning is in your mind, and attainable at the click of a play button. ≡ http://www.npr.org/ REVIEW
By Matthew Murphy; June 19, 2015; Score: 7.1
≡ Meg Baird‘s career has seldom lacked for action or variety; she co–founded the highly esteemed Philly psych–folk group Espers, has performed with her sister Laura as the Baird Sisters, played drums with noisy punk combo Watery Love, and sung alongside the likes of Kurt Vile, Will Oldham, and Sharon Van Etten. If she so chose, she surely has the skills and connections to make an expansive, cross–genre album studded with guest appearances, but she hasn’t seemed interested in that. She has always kept her solo albums streamlined and direct, focusing her songs almost exclusively on her finger–picked guitar and radiant voice. Likewise, her thematic approach has never been panoramic; instead her albums tend to feel like private journals, wherein a particular mood is set and then sustained and refined.
≡ The same holds true, with a few subtle but important variations, for Baird’s third solo album, Don’t Weigh Down the Light. Her past albums have featured several interpretations of traditional folk standards and well–wrought covers of such obscurities as House of Love’s “Beatles and the Stones”. In fact her style is so steeped in British and Appalachian folk forms that at times even her original songs have sounded as if they had been written in a previous century. On Don’t Weigh Down the Light, however, all of the tracks are Baird originals, and are less reliant on traditional folk idioms.
≡ Where her previous album, 2011’s Seasons on Earth, was ornamented with pedal steel and other subtle country touches, Baird is here joined throughout by Charlie Saufley, formerly of SF acid rock heavyweights the Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound. ≡ On several tracks here the duo of Baird and Saufley masquerade as a full band, with each playing multiple instruments and filling the songs’ ample open spaces with gentle ripples of organ, 12–string guitar, and percussion. As a result Don’t Weigh Down the Light is the closest Baird has come in her solo work to reclaiming the cosmic turf once occupied by Espers.
≡ In the time since the release of Seasons on Earth, Baird moved from her longtime base of Philadelphia to San Francisco, and it doesn’t feel too outlandish to suggest that Baird’s move has had a substantial influence on Don’t Weigh Down the Light. There is a general feel of transition and displacement permeating such tracks as “Past Houses” or “Even the Walls Don’t Want You to Go”. Midway through the album is a short track simply entitled “Leaving Song”, featuring nothing but Baird’s multi–tracked vocals, wordlessly cascading down in a manner that can sound alternately melancholic or prayer–like, depending on the listener’s current frame of mind.
≡ Brief though the track is, its placement seems noteworthy, almost as though it is the hinge upon which the rest of the album is meant to pivot. Curiously, the vocal melody of “Leaving Song” returns a few songs later as a background track on “Even the Walls Don’t Want You to Go”. This echoing, especially when coupled with the following reprise of the song “Past Houses”, gives the album a circular feel, as though Baird’s songs are doubling back upon themselves in a continuous loop of departures and arrivals.
≡ Baird’s voice sounds as potent and icy–clear as ever. As evidenced by her work with Espers and the Baird Sisters, her voice is well–suited to close–harmony singing, and here she makes frequent use of vocal multi–tracking, adding whispery harmonies at what sounds like the upper limits of her register. In combination with the casual jammy vibe on some of the instrumental passages, these airy harmonies recall some of the folkier aspects of Popol Vuh. In recent months Baird and Saufley have joined forces with Comets on Fire’s Ethan Miller to form the West Coast psych outfit Heron Oblivion, and if their work together on Don’t Weigh Down the Light is any indication, that might herald even further fruitful departures. ≡ http://pitchfork.com/
REVIEWER: ROSS JONES; SCORE: ****
By Helen Brown, 2:00PM BST 20 Jun 2015; Score: ****
|Don’t Weigh Down the Light|