Widowspeak
Almanac


4.0
excellent

Review

by Rudy K. STAFF
February 13th, 2013 | 28 replies


Release Date: 01/22/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Rain ahead.

Widowspeak specializes in a sort of burnt-hued Americana, a nostalgic blend of singer Molly Hamilton’s ethereal heroin-chic aesthetic and the dusty, widescreen guitar-rock courtesy of bandmate Robert Earl Thomas she delicately navigates. For two people, Widowspeak makes an awful lot of noise: guitars whip-cracking smartly along skeletal melodic lines, robust, rattling percussion, a cloud of reverb that seems to have been transplanted straight from Jim James’ silo. Their old homes in Washington never seem too far away, licks and harmonics obscured by the damp and the foggy, a sense of green filling everything up with crackling vitality. It’s curiously obscured provincial music, whether that’s by Hamilton’s melancholy vocals, always seeming to sigh along rather than push forward, or Thomas’s hazy instrumental work, muscular riffs, dyed-in-the-wool rock and chunky blues filtered through a Jesus and Mary Chain-worthy level of fuzz. “I’m afraid that nothing lasts, nothing lasts long enough,” Hamilton moans on opener “Perennials,” a song that belies that sentiment with buildup that seems to revel in its own deathless sounds, the hints of Fleetwood Mac and that thunderous roar that Thomas builds up carefully, cacophonously. Almanac is a more appropriate title than it first appears.

The classic rock influence is more obvious on certain tracks – “Dyed in the Wool,” “The Dark Age,” and “Devil’s Know” all revolve around particularly striking riffs, bluesy and suitably country-fried – but where Almanac distinguishes Widowspeak not only from its influences but from its own fairly rote past is how it comes across as uncommonly of its own time. Not 2013, really, but something lost and remembered, like how the sinister accordion and echoed halls of “Thick as Thieves” may have you relieving an old Ray Bradbury story. It’s a unique feeling that is achieved through how authentic everything sounds – that aforementioned accordion, the AM fade of campfire sing-along “Minnewaska,” the paranoid psychedelic dissonance and threatening Deerhunter-esque hum of “Storm King" – as well as how Widowspeak distinguishes itself with the attention to detail, to mood and tone, to managing a sound so beautifully out of focus as Almanac is. It’s a wonderful trick that culminates in album centerpiece “Ballad of the Golden Hour,” a runaway train of a track that escalates from an insistent acoustic strum into a watercolor of intertwining steel guitar and Hamilton’s wistful vocals. It’s a lovely, urgent representation of rustic Americana before the chorus, which then proceeds to turn that deceptive guitar motif into something dark and dangerous and desperately urgent, transforming Hamilton’s smoky declaration of “we can never, stay forever” from a lovesick entreaty to a forlorn warning. It’s a song that has its tracks in many different eras and sounds, each as timeless as the next, but never fails to leave an impact that is indelibly its own. Widowspeak’s greatest accomplishment is maintaining that same sense of simmering, uncertain wonder over the course of one appealingly blurry album.



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user ratings (29)
Chart.
3.4
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
klap
Staff Reviewer
February 12th 2013


10579 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

sweet album RIYL Americana, shoegaze, folk, Bilinda Butcher

Digging: Charli XCX - Sucker

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
February 12th 2013


7127 Comments


Dat pooh bear : ] I was hoping this would be some weird occultish folkened black metal. Guess I'll be on my way.

robin
Emeritus
February 12th 2013


4261 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

album fucking kicks it

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
February 12th 2013


4458 Comments


Listening to "Thick As Thieves" now, it's really good. I especially love her voice in it.

Good review, Rudy.

Funeralopolis
February 12th 2013


11888 Comments


I remember hearing a song off this ages ago, might check out

Digging: Owen Pallett - In Conflict

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
February 13th 2013


24090 Comments


rec'd by reviewer omg

review is sweet too, I'd love this, wouldn't I?

Digging: Mitski - bury me at makeout creek

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
February 13th 2013


24090 Comments


the artwork makes it look like something Irving would review though...

klap
Staff Reviewer
February 13th 2013


10579 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

who wouldn't? artwork is very retro imo

Deadwing42
February 13th 2013


143 Comments


I want to listen to this.

The artwork is seriously unappealing, though.

Pentagon
February 13th 2013


1998 Comments


yh its shite

Ponton
Emeritus
February 13th 2013


5819 Comments


good album

Digging: Gates - Bloom and Breathe

joshuatree
Emeritus
February 13th 2013


3742 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

i'm all about this

klap
Staff Reviewer
February 13th 2013


10579 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

oh yeah cam don't tease me

robin
Emeritus
February 13th 2013


4261 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

they are gonna blow up or become slightly more popular and play afternoon sets at well-established festivals

folk

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
February 13th 2013


7423 Comments


This sounds like something I should listent to.

Fabulous review as ever Rudy.

wabbit
February 13th 2013


7035 Comments


this is ace

nononsense
February 13th 2013


3431 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

So good.

klap
Staff Reviewer
February 13th 2013


10579 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

what's that i hear, off in the distance???!

http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m70x78hASP1qdzjt2o1_500.png

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
February 13th 2013


24090 Comments


Aids likes this

Anthracks
February 14th 2013


3796 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

pretty good album 66/100 i would say

Digging: The Decemberists - What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World



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