If you’ve been tuned in, Styrofoam Winos have been making some of the finer indie odes of the past few years out of their Nashville Enclave. The band boasts three great songwriters, a likely contributing factor to their excellence, and Lou Turner is quite a large part of their charms. Her latest solo endeavor only further endears Turner’s warm-hearted pop to the collective consciousness. Microcosmos is an album that’s looser and more tousled than anything she’s done with the Winos. A country record, a folk record, a singer-songwriter record that reflects back the Nashville tarnished brass, full of small moments that somehow seem universal. She’s tapped a ‘70s glow on the albums, while keeping at least a finger or two into a more verbose, but shaggily charming arm of current indie songwriter circles. She melds Joni and Jerry Jeff with the kind of dashed off shuffle that’s wholly owned by Snock. Simon Joyner’s name was bandied about in background materials and that sticks well, she shares his knack for dog-eared phrases that peel back their adhesive to just barely hold tight to the backing track — both words and strums vying for an ear on the listener.
The album is bruised, but unperturbed. It’s hard to walk through 2022 without a contusion or two, whether or not they push through the soul to the skin. Exhibited or elusive, the damage remains. Turner finds a certain solace in the kind of fringe characters that lick their wounds a bit deeper, feel their hurt further down in the pit of the stomach. Love finds its way through the worn stitching of her songs, but just as often isolation and solitude pull the threads tight, wrapping around the listener like an quilt that’s warm but can’t help but chafe. Microcosmos is the kind of record that begs repeat listens, doling out hidden messages and small turns of phrase that stoke the flame with an oxygenated gust that gives life. The Winos will always be favorites around here, but with this record, Turner proves that she’s a potent force on her own, a troubadour that would likely spit the title right back at you, then go ahead and break your heart twice over during her set.
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