songs / instrumentals
Across two albums (songs and instrumentals) that function as one stunning piece of music, the Big Thief singer approaches familiar themes of loss, solitude, memory, and regret in some of the most vivid songwriting of her career.
Lenker made the record in a one-room cabin in the woods of Western Massachusetts where she holed up in spring, waiting out the early days of the pandemic and reeling from a broken heart. The simple pinewood planks of the shack’s interior reminded her, she said, of “the inside of an acoustic guitar,” which is to say it felt like home. Her friend Philip Weinrobe, a recording engineer, was summoned with a truckload of gear: half-inch tape machines, XLR cables, a binaural mic.
They spent a couple weeks setting up and another three weeks recording, and the sense of presence they captured—in two cases, recording directly to Weinrobe’s Walkman—is almost overwhelming. The guitar sounds so close that you can hear the ridges of Lenker’s fingertips rubbing against coiled steel. Occasionally, her chair creaks or her foot brushes against the floor. Some songs wear a halo of birdsong or rainfall. Fragments from the sessions—orphaned chords strummed in the silence before a take begins, the thunk of what might be fingers pressing down on the keys of the tape machine—litter the final mixdown like leaves strewn across the cabin floor