Seasonal music here: a bitter wind howls outside a creaky house at dusk, rattling crispy, frozen leaves against a front door. The gusts dying down, an old piano is heard in the distance, its ascending chordal figure evoking a familiar happiness now lost. A young woman sings in a low, plaintive vibrato of love’s suffering: “I’m as broken/As a woman can be.” Memories and feelings flood back, coating the dying light with the grain of an old color film print.
“Some Winters” is wintry music, Gothic with a capital B for Brontë, and an astonishing calling card for the young singer-songwriter who records as Weyes Blood. On her debut album The Innocents, Natalie Merling, who first came to critical attention via high profile collaborations with Ariel Pink and Jackie-O Motherfucker, puts a contemporary spin on musical traditions that could be categorized as indie-folk. Literary references, diverse arrangements, and postmodern touches (like the recording tape wobble heard on “Some Winters”) enliven the album’s mood of austere melancholy. Merling’s picking on the acoustic guitar recalls the style of Marissa Nadler, while on “Ashes” a shambling band plies the British folk-rock that Marianne Faithfull has recently returned to. With lead track “Land of Broken Dreams,” Merling presents an unforced, convincing political protest song — quite a rarity in indie rock.
I confess I totally slept on this album, which was released last October and wrongfully absent in most of the conversation around 2014’s best music. The good news is that we can now atone for this omission. This Saturday, Weyes Blood launches a seven-week tour of North America and Europe, evidently heedless of the perils of touring in winter. (Quebec City? In January??) She’ll have a band behind her, so look forward to the full gamut of sounds and styles heard on The Innocents.
The Innocents is out now on Mexican Summer Records.
WEYES BLOOD ON TOUR:
1-10 Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s
1-11 Baltimore, MD @ The Crown
1-13 Durham, NC @ The Pinhook
1-14 Asheville, NC @ Tiger Mountain
1-15 Columbus, OH @ Bourbon Street
1-16 Chicago, IL @ The Empty Bottle
1-17 Detroit, MI @ UFO Factory
1-19 Toronto, ON, Canada @ The Smiling Buddha
1-20 Montreal, QC, Canada @ Le Divan Orange
1-21 Quebec City, QC, Canada @ L’Agitée
1-22 Boston, MA @ TT The Bears
1-24 Brooklyn, NY @ Baby’s All Right
1-26 San Diego, CA @ The Hideout
1-27 San Francisco, CA @ Hemlock
1-31 Seattle, WA @ Hollow Earth Radio
2-1 Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios
2-2 Oakland, CA @ Leo’s
2-4 Santa Cruz, CA @ The Crepe Place
2-7 Los Angeles, CA @ Jewel’s
2-17 Hamburg, DE @ Astra-Stube
2-18 Berlin, DE @ Kantine am Berghain
2-19 Heidelberg, DE @ Karlstorbahnhof
2-21 London, UK @ Old Blue Last
2-22 Glasgow, UK @ Glad Café
2-25 Amsterdam, NL @ OT301
2-26 Paris, FR @ Espace B
2-27 Lisbon, PO @ Z D B
2-28 Braga, PO @ GNRation