Though Sarah Louise has let loose her vocals with her pastoral duo House and Land, her upcoming LP for Thrill Jockey marks a shift away from her typically instrumental trappings under her solo guise. On Deeper Woods her voice is prominent and transfixing, pushing her nimble passages out of the Appalachian blues that she’s been drawing from and into a darker, and as the title might suggest, deeper territory. In addition to her transcendent vocals, Deeper Woods pushes further into the psych-folk trenches than either her previous efforts, burning a bit of cinder and sage at the edges of her songwriting and pulling from the wells of Susan Christie and Six Organs in equal measures.
But to call this simply a folk album is to dismiss the work that Louise is doing here. On “The Field That Touches My House and Yours” she weaves those yearning vocals over a bed of synths and restrained piano, eschewing guitars entirely and pushing her headlong into the realms of somber ‘70s songwriters burdened with a heavy heart and a shadowed soul. She draws out some of the fullest realizations of her shipwrecked croon yet, radiating woe and bolstering songs with sighs of violin, nudges of bass and raindrop keys that all set this album adrift into a sea of sadness.
Up to this point Sarah Louise has been no lightweight, but with Deeper Woods she announces her intent to capture every ear in the room, to snuff any trace of conversation with her gravitational pull. This is a watershed moment for Louise and she’s left us with an album hits like a downpour – heavy, cool, beautiful and beguiling. This feels like just the beginning for Louise but its refreshing to linger in her creation.
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