Forgive me in advance if I get a little carried away with this one. Big Thief have shot out of nowhere to become one of my favourite bands at the minute. They’ve two records, ‘Masterpiece‘ released in 2016 which was quickly followed up by ‘Capacity’ mid 2017. It’s this record that I want to talk about today but firstly I’d like to just give a quick background into Big Thief. Formed in 2015, Big Thief are made up of three dudes and one chick, the lead singer Adrianne Lenker. Their music is alt/indie rock but I get hints of folk in there too, Lenker’s voice often tipping into a country-esque sound. There’s a distinct quality in their music where they’re able to draw you in and keep you on edge, always anticipating some wonderful melody or subtle, emotive guitar solo.
According to their website bio, they recorded this beautiful record in a “snowy winter nest in upstate New York at Outlier Studio“. I’ve always loved the stories behind recordings, such as Bon Iver’s escape to a remote cabin in the woods of Wisconsin. I feel it adds a little to the concept and how the record is recorded. With this record, it sounds like Lenker brought all of her feelings to the fore from a range of aspects of her life, love and loss amongst others. It’s her record. The stories she tells, the memories she brings up and then the mesmerising way she tells it all. It’s truly captivating because of these stories, once such being ‘Mythological Beauty’ which details the memory of her mother cradling her as a child after a car accident. The lure of her voice is constant, ‘Coma’ and ‘Pretty Things’ being two tracks that she completely owns.
As the record moves forward there’s no let up in quality. It’s actually flawless and not just for the way Lenker puts it all out there. Buck Meek creates riffs that equal the lyrical approach, howling in the background. ‘Capacity’ and ‘Objects’ highlight the presence of the guitar, showing its importance in creating the mood. The poetic ‘Mary’ is the one that really embodies the spirit of this record for me, capturing all of Lenker’s true self to produce a track reminiscent of a Joni Mitchell number. It’s songs like these that stand the test of time, enduring all that changes around them. This song is particular is about a friendship and an old friend from her college days. She describes this friendship as “meeting a real friend who holds a space on this earth for you to be yourself” in an interview with NPR. ‘Black Diamonds’ closes out the album chirpy enough fashion which is actually kind of a happy ending.
I won’t add more much as I’ve probably done it an injustice already. Big Thief play Whelans on March 31st and April 1st, I highly recommend getting yourself a ticket.
Photo Credit: BigThiefBandcamp