Review Summary: Mt. Eerie welcomes the addition of local hero Julie Doiron for their newest full-length Lost Wisdom, creating a stark, vulnerable album that fits naturally within Phil Elverum's ever-expanding body of work.
Lost Wisdom is Phil Elverum’s first collaboration with his hero Julie Doiron from the influential 90’s outfit Eric’s Trip, whom he covered on 2000’s It Was Hot, We Stayed in the Water.
Phil has been scaling back the adventurousness of his musical output recently. If 2001’s The Glow Part 2 was him allowing his music to drift freely, Lost Wisdom is Phil hammering stakes into his songs, restraining them as if he fears living without they’re company. The songs still inhabit the same smokey ghost towns, but this time with new residents Doiron and Fred Squire. Throughout the album Squire effortlessly narrates Phil’s wanderings with his fragile, contemplative guitar playing, as Julie’s fleecy vocals line Phil’s boyish yet callused poetry.
The tone of Lost Wisdom unfolds like a natural follow-up to 2005’s No Flashlight. Phil compliments the addition of Squire by picking up the tempo of his own guitar, with a few noticeable riffs surfacing. The third track, “You Swan, Go on,” is the best example of this, where the brushed drums trot along under a catchy guitar lick a la Nick Drake.
Like most prolific songwriters, Phil has built up a catalogue so immense that he can reference lyrics from his previous work. Midway through the album, the duet “What?” repeats the line “Your love, swells and pounds me,” that was originally admitted on No Flashlight’s “I Hold Nothing.” This allusion builds on the theme of Lost Wisdom, which retraces the course of The Microphones in order to mirror the exhausted contemplation of someone leaving his twenties. But the album also makes a clear case for where music is heading, shedding grandiosity in favor of intimacy, Phil’s palette of instruments has become modest, but the vocals have taken the foreground, and their presence rattles the delicate spaces they inhabit.