Review Summary: This is a soundtrack for lost and lonely souls blindly wandering a barren wasteland.
True Widow is a 3-piece band from Dallas, Texas consisting of DH. Phillips (guitar/vocals), Nicole Estill (bass/vocals) and Slim TX (drums). They describe their sound as “stonegaze,” coming from a combination of genres known as stoner-rock and shoegaze. Based on their debut (self-titled) full-length True Widow, “stonegaze” is an accurate description of their music as this record shows their special ability to mix groovy stoner-rock riffs with the airy and spacious sounds of shoegaze.
“Aka” starts off with a melancholic guitar melody evoking a sensation of sorrow and ache. With Phillips belting out catchy verse-hooks and a strong guitar melody, this song is a strong start to the bleak reality this album ends up portraying. In “Duelist” the tempo picks up a bit and the thick tone of the guitar takes over. Estill and Phillips trade-off vocals effortlessly, while conveying an inability to overcome darkened thoughts and wasted life. “Minor it Down” rumbles with a strong, steady pulse and concludes with an interesting spacey melody that slides in towards the end. Lyrically, it hints at someone who is unable to redirect his or her troubled ways and is getting lost in the attempts at change. “Sunday Driver” heightens up the atmosphere and showcases a more vulnerable and passionate vocal performance from Philips. This track is slow, grinding and full of blurry lust. “Corpse Master” is another slow-burner full of despondency and anhedonia. This tune has a heavy mood with dissonant, psychedelic guitar feedback lurking in the background and emotional pain in Phillips’ vocals.
“Flat Black” is a somewhat energetic track about the difficulty in trusting ones-self and the various possibilities that surround each decision we make. “All You Need” may have the lightest mood on the record, but it still manages to portray black and white images of desolation and loneliness. Estill and Phillips come together to sing a powerful chorus that suspends above the music like hovering ghosts. “Mesh Mask” is a definite highlight where Phillips manages to sing directly into the chambers of the soul with a hauntingly beautiful chorus and touching, poetic lyrics. It’s about acting out of character and almost getting consumed by it to the point of no return. The next track “Bleeder” is a mid-tempo thumper with Estill handling most of the vocals, singing about the incalculable amount of dreams that have never come to fruition and the slipping sanity that occurs from trying to lead a regular life. The standout of this song is the thick guitar riff that thunderously rains down during the bridge. Last but not least is “Kr,” a thick and doomy track with a chorus that radiates heartache. It’s a long-winding song that seems to be about how losing something or someone important can leave you feeling lost inside yourself. It’s one of the most atmospheric tracks on the album, full of gloom and despair.
True Widow is not a perfect album falling prey to one main issue, which is that the songs seem to blend together a little too much. There is a lack of diversity on this record as all the songs follow a similar structure, pace and one dominant mood, both musically and vocally. Although, the truth is that this issue is also what makes this record feel so cohesive and sincere. The repetitive ambience burns stark imagery and cold emotion right into the psyche with an unrelenting force.
Overall, True Widow is a highly addictive album full of dense atmosphere, heavy guitar hooks, catchy vocal melodies and lyrics that reach deep into the dark recesses of human imperfection. This is a soundtrack for lost and lonely souls blindly wandering a barren wasteland.