Review Summary: Folk in the moonlight, in front of a camp fire, sang by a witch.
We may argue all day about what makes an album special; songwriting, performance, originality and production are some of the criteria that most of us apply when we use logic. But art is far from logic; maybe in a subconscious level, certain albums have the ability to appeal to us instantly without even understanding initially why we connect to them so strongly. The obvious and easy – but honest – answer is that they hit us right in the feels.
Such an album is Dorthia Cottrell’s debut; full of emotions and landscapes. A mix between folk and country, Dorthia Cottrell
is in a sense a highly atmospheric release. Some of you may already be aware with Cottrell’s special voice from her work with doom outfit Windhand. For those who are not familiar, Cottrell’s vocals are not your typical folk or similar to artists such as Carole King, Sandy Denny or Joan Baez. Her voice is deep, warm and powerful. That and the soundscapes she creates with her songwriting give to the album a very interesting, almost metal vibe. The instrumentation of the album is very simple yet effective; there’s just Dorthia’s guitar and a few sound effects. What’s so brilliant about this album is that it’s dark, gloomy and by listening, one can literally imagine landscapes from the American western regions. I personally get images of Wyoming and large patches of land while others can even envision scenes from True Detective. Yes, there are times where the atmosphere of this album is that haunting with lyrics such as,
”god is not my problem
and my flesh is weak
I’m the kinda girl who needs a devil in a man
to satisfy me”
is mostly a melancholic journey with only one uplifting moment; “Maybe it’s True” sounds like a lullaby and a fresh hope floating in the air. Some of you might get a Townes Van Zandt vibe - who’s a clear influence judging by the cover of “Rake” - and while that might be accurate, the amount of desperation is not as high on here.
The only part where the album falters is probably the track order. While there are no weak tracks, it seems that the stronger material is placed in the beginning leading to a slightly uneven effort. As a result, some may perceive the album as tiresome or longer than it actually is, especially in the first couple of listens.
To sum up, for folk enthusiasts Dorthia Cottrel
has the potential to be one of the most enjoyable experiences of the year. The fact that the songs were written during a 10-year period, gives the album a sense of variety while being cohesive at the same time. Contrary to her work with Windhand, this LP gives us the opportunity to admire Cottrel’s voice stripped down, to the front and without any effects and this is alone a strong selling point.