Natalie Mering’s arresting voice doesn’t sound as if it’s emanating from a person as much as from a lineage. As Weyes Blood, she even looks the part of the “atemporal” enchantress—to use the description of her record label, Mexican Summer—whose songwriting has an “ancient resonance,” almost as if she were passed into this time through the wardrobe door. And there’s as pretty of a sadness you’d ever want to hear generating her songs. Something transformative took hold of her sound on last year’s exquisite Front Row Seat to Earth (stream it below), her second proper Weyes Blood full-length. Reiterations of Judy Collins, Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell were elevated to a contemporary clarity, as if their classic folk songs of longing had undergone inventive remastering. On the closing of “Be Free” (above, performed live for Issue magazine) the eerie and delicate lift of Mering’s voice in slow waltzing lockstep with forlorn trombones makes you want to give her a grateful hug. And when “Generation Why” transforms from a somber piece of folk into a rising futuristic star with undercurrents of Enya and Giorgio Moroder and Klaus Doldinger, there’s a realization of being in the presence of something beautifully strange. Mering cherishes the art form while seizing it for her own design. Along with her latest recordings with Ariel Pink (including Myths 002, stream it below) to add to her discography, Weyes Blood has plenty to draw from for prime performances that may exist only in the timeless vacuum of Mering’s exposition, to which she has extended invitation. Essentially, it’s those artists like Weyes Blood who keep the lifeblood of alternative music pumping, so it hovers in mist over the high frequency electric bandwidth of excess, just above the glow of the streetlight, which is comforting to know. Walk into the dark of a park and you can reach up and touch it. And you can do the same when Weyes Blood plays Music Hall of Williamsburg tonight. Big-voiced singer-songwriter and guitarist Julie Byrne opens the show. —Charles Steinberg | @Challyolly
Tag Archives: Julie Byrne
Singer-songwriter and guitarist Julie Byrne gets around: She grew up in Buffalo and at 18 moved to Chicago and then to Seattle with stops in Pittsburgh, Northampton, Mass., New Orleans and Lawrence, Kan.—plus plenty of time performing on the road crisscrossing the country—before landing in Brooklyn last year. Who knows how long her NYC stay will last, but Byrne’s made time to work as a seasonal park ranger in Central Park when she’s not touring. Byrne (above, playing “Natural Blue” for the Line of Best Fit) returned home—not just to Buffalo, but to the house she was raised in—to record the follow-up to her terrific psych- and folk-filled debut, 2014’s Rooms with Walls and Windows (stream it below), which earned her frequent comparisons to Joni Mitchell. Not Even Happiness, which Stereogum calls “a top-shelf winter album,” arrives tomorrow on Ba Da Bing. “We can think of few better ways to treat your mind and soul than with Not Even Happiness,” according to NME. Decide for yourself tomorrow night at Rough Trade NYC. Infinity’s Song and Suno Deko open the show.
Tags: Brooklyn, Infinity’s Song, Joni Mitchell, Julie Byrne, Live Music, Music, New York City, Not Even Happiness, Preview, Rooms with Walls and Windows, Rough Trade NYC, Suno Deko, Video, Williamsburg
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