Adrianne Lenker
songs


4.5
superb

Review

by BlushfulHippocrene STAFF
October 24th, 2020 | 87 replies


Release Date: 10/23/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Damn fine folk album

Unlike abysskiss, and unlike Adrianne Lenker’s work with Big Thief, songs is far from meticulous. It’s difficult to imagine Lenker sitting down and thinking about what she’s going to write. It’s equally difficult, as listener, to predict what songs will entail. Sweeping, spindly guitars, sure. Slight, well-commanded soprano, yes. Rushy, flowy, rambly folk songwriting, absolutely. What patterns will emerge as a result of these collisions, but? I’m not convinced Lenker herself knows; songs feels spontaneous, fragmented even. Lenker, in writing, in performing, appears to tap into something deep, deep within herself, something well beyond her—and subsequently our—comprehension; the attempt, though, is worth it, the rare glimpse profound.

Ironically, or maybe not, songs is Lenker’s least typically-structured set of songs to date—far more rambly, and increasingly repetitive. Not that Lenker’s songwriting process has ever been particularly graspable. Read, in various profiles of the singer-songwriter, collaborators ponder with much perplexion where the songs come from, how the songs come to be. Glean, from Big Thief’s Song Exploder episode, a greater emphasis on rhythmic connection and emotional complexity than, say, form. But it’s a method (or non-method) that works incredibly well: songs is Lenker’s most complete, her most personal work; her least comprehensible, but her most comprehensive.

So many simple mantras occupy the worlds Lenker creates through her music. “Everything eats and is eaten,” she sings on ‘ingydar’, a line that is as accepting of the world and its tragedies as it is an encapsulation of an awfully, brutally, terribly “fuck it” attitude. As many abstractions exist on the album: fragments of narratives about matricide, childhood, dead horses… A common theme is the intersection between love and violence. ‘Anything’, for example, opens with the beautifully clever line: “Staring down the barrel of the hot sun / Shining with the sheen of a shotgun”. It’s a fragile song, equal parts restless, desperate, and in love. It’s a song whose meaning hinges in large part on whether it was written before or after the central breakup. It’s one of Lenker’s best. ‘Come’ narrates a mother asking her daughter to kill her, to absorb one life into the other. ‘Not a lot, just forever’ invokes Two Hand’s wolf, as much a protector as a force of violence—as much a part of the narrator as an external source of grief. (There is also this tragic line: “And I wanna be your wife / So I hold you to my knife”.) The songs are, as one might expect, a tad frantic; so, too, is songs, even at its most graceful. Penultimate ‘dragon eyes’ is, thankfully, a release of tension, a song in which the narrator appears to come to terms with the end of the relationship, on which “I just want a place with you”, becomes the more important “I just want a place”.

Albums written under similar circumstances—Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago will come to many people’s minds; think love, heartbreak, a subsequent retreat into nature—often lead to satisfying, if bitter climaxes; heartfelt discoveries of self. Songs, on the other hand, feels more attuned to the process than the conclusion, more to the searching than the discovery. Its production attests to this. Little attempt is made to embellish, or cover up what sounds outside of Lenker’s own sneak their way into the recordings. Hear, on ‘come’, a fire. (I mistook it, at first, for rain; it still might be.) Hear it crackle, burn, then dissipate, absorb into Lenker’s loud, enchanting, impassioned fingerpicking. Hear birds on ‘zombie girl’, the twinkling of wind chimes. Hear, on ‘my angel’, the buzz of electronics, the fuzz of the recorder. Hear trees moan and forests creak throughout. Songs becomes as much about Lenker’s performance as it does about the act of performing: as much about the space Lenker creates through her music as the space in which she creates it. Songs is, as a result, and in spite of its fragmentation, nothing if not wholistic. An abstract collage of colours, mostly greens and greys, whose pieces have been torn and scattered, have become a part of the larger landscape at the foot of which they were conceived, have formed something greater, something dark and puzzling and graceful.

Closer ‘my angel’ feels stumbled upon: emerging, abruptly, out of what sounds like random twiddling; ending, as abruptly, with the sound of a recorder being unplugged. As if, somewhere, songs continues, and perhaps it does. Somewhere, in nature, rotting or ablaze.




Recent reviews by this author
Glowing No FunLomelda Hannah
Rich People HarmonyEmily Keener I Do Not Have To Be Good
The Smith Street Band Don't Waste Your Angerclipping. There Existed an Addiction to Blood
user ratings (68)
3.7
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
GotDoritos
October 24th 2020


22 Comments


a beautiful review for a beautiful album

Sunnyvale
October 24th 2020


1845 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review. After one listen I really liked this, although I'm really into anything Big Thief-related these days

BigTuna
October 24th 2020


5455 Comments


Can't wait to sit down and listen to this.

Digging: San Fermin - The Cormorant I and II

Cormano
October 24th 2020


2371 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Lenker, in writing, in performing, appears to tap into something deep, deep within herself, something well beyond her—and subsequently our—comprehension; the attempt, though, is worth it, the rare glimpse profound."



YES

I was just having these thoughts a couple days ago on how she has this ability to write from a very profound place in the human psyche, that, at times, feels like it overlaps with the unknown, I believe this is what makes her one of the best songwriters alive today



amazing work Blush

BlushfulHippocrene
Staff Reviewer
October 25th 2020


3514 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks friends. < 3

"this is boring as shit"

Damn, anything about it in particular? I remember you loved UFOF, right? Hopefully if some of these songs turn out on the next Big Thief they translate well for you.

"how she has this ability to write from a very profound place in the human psyche, that, at times, feels like it overlaps with the unknown"

Yes! Couldn't agree more, perfect description.

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
October 25th 2020


20574 Comments


is this more engaging than her last? couldn't get into that one :C

BlushfulHippocrene
Staff Reviewer
October 25th 2020


3514 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I've seen it described as more direct, but honestly, I can see it being less engaging... I'd say listen to 'anything', and if you enjoy it definitely give this ago. For what it's worth, there's no way this isn't my AOTY.

Cormano
October 25th 2020


2371 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

what are your feelings on the instrumental one? I haven't tried it yet

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
October 25th 2020


44298 Comments


absolutely superb review. maybe your best? anyway let's all appreciate this part of ingydar right now please:

"fragilely, gradually and surrounding
the horse lies naked in the shed
evergreen anodyne decompounding
flies draw sugar from his head
his eyes are blueberries, video screens
Minneapolis schemes and the dried flowers from books half-read
the juice of dark cherries cover his chin
the dog walks in and the crow lies in his jaw like lead"

maybe her best lyrics

Digging: ManDancing - The Good Sweat

Cormano
October 25th 2020


2371 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

lyric wise I don't think she'll ever top Mary, but thats just me



ingydar is indeed my favorite thus far, and I'll be damned if it doesn't paint one beautiful picture

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
October 25th 2020


22201 Comments


Stunning write up as always Blush. I loved UFOF so I will check this for sure.

Digging: Emma Ruth Rundle and Thou - May Our Chambers Be Full

Nbehre11
October 25th 2020


216 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Album is gorgeous, great write up. Cheers!

Digging: Seahaven - Halo of Hurt

verdant
Staff Reviewer
October 25th 2020


2459 Comments


review is a mastahpeece

SowingSeason
Moderator
October 25th 2020


36219 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Wonderful review Blush. I certainly echo the sentiment that this could be your best write up to date. As for the album, I'm trying to let it sink in some more. It's beautiful, but a lot of it has been blending together for me. I don't want to say that there's not enough variation in terms of the melodies, but I need to give them time to distinguish themselves. Instrumentals is also very gorgeous, if a bit meandering, and I imagine the two albums would make for quite dreamy background music. I'm still just waiting for something to grab me as superb, as opposed to merely pleasant.

Digging: Phoebe Bridgers - If We Make It Through December

ajcollins15
October 25th 2020


151 Comments


don't joke yourself...this isn't good

BlushfulHippocrene
Staff Reviewer
October 26th 2020


3514 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"what are your feelings on the instrumental one?"

It's not as good as songs IMO, but it's beautiful. Every time it gets headbobby it seems to shift, which is interesting. Very calming unlike (most of the songs on) this album, and it feels largely improvised.

" I don't want to say that there's not enough variation in terms of the melodies, but I need to give them time to distinguish themselves."

If you did think that, I'd totally get it: I think this is by far her most repetitious work to date. I think I like that it feels like one big singular movement.

BlushfulHippocrene
Staff Reviewer
October 26th 2020


3514 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"don't joke yourself...this isn't good"

Oops, u right. [changes score to 1.0]

verdant
Staff Reviewer
October 26th 2020


2459 Comments


ajcollins15 has spoken

Cormano
October 26th 2020


2371 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

been lying to myself this whole time, might as well just end it alltogether



album is shit, life is shit

AsleepInTheBack
Contributing Reviewer
October 26th 2020


6710 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

gorgeous review.



i adore hours were the birds, i should really get around to this and abysskiss



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2019 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy