ADRIANNE LENKER - BRIGHT FUTURE
ADRIANNE LENKER - BRIGHT FUTURE
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ADRIANNE LENKER - BRIGHT FUTURE

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Released: 22/03/24

I’m going to be honest, I don’t really listen to Big Thief: I certainly appreciate that they're very good songwriters, and fantastic musicians; but I generally find their output a bit mannered, a little faux-breathless, such as last year’s single, and one of the band’s most loved tracks, ‘Vampire Empire’ – it’s just all a bit emo-cutesy for my liking. All of which is to say that I didn’t know what to expect from Big Thief vocalist Adrienne Lenker’s new LP Bright Future, having neglected to listen to her last solo release, 2020’s Songs (I’ve now rectified that), and … wow, this is a fantastic record.

While there’s a good deal to like about the aforementioned Songs, at its best reminding me of Feist and Sufjan Stevens, Bright Future works so well because it does away with the contemporary indie-folk contrivances that hamper that LP, such as the multi-tracked hushed ‘mobile phone ad’ vocals that make me so averse to Bon Iver. On Bright Future, this manner of vocal delivery is jettisoned in favour of, to use Cat Stevens’ term, singing out, and it’s a revelation, redolent of the care-worn, heart-rending beauty of Linda Ronstadt and Karen Black. The tracks too, such as the sagacious, Townes Van Zandt-esque country of ‘Sadness As a Gift’, are excellent: all the better for sounding ‘live-in-the-room’, and played wonderfully by Lenker’s hand-picked band of Nick Hakim, Mat Davidson, and Josefin Runsteen.