Sarah Louise has long broken tradition with many of the folk enclaves she’s usually associated with. Having taken a more traditional, pastoral folk route with her duo House and Land, she reserves her solo work for testing the boundaries between solo guitar, synth, sample and the natural world. Often letting field recordings grow between the cracks of her works, with Earth Bow, she’s plugged a conduit straight into the soil to channel the humid hollows of the world around her. On 2019’s Nighttime Birds and Morning Stars she began her walk away from fingerpicked fare. She deepened the commitment on last year’s Earth and Its Contents. The cycle continues anew on Earth Bow, refracted and inverting her approach into tessellations of sound that carve out a crystal funhouse for the listener to wander.
She’s scrapped the linear approach, crafting improvisations, then reassembling them into individual songs within her SP-404SX sampler. The songs grew into something larger, finding connections that were then sewn together into two sidelong suites. The record finds her refining and perfecting her commune with the environment, a prog-folk tapestry that’s constantly folding in upon itself. Nowhere is that origami approach more apparent than on the opener. “The Owl Hums” composts themes from across the full record, an overture that pulls the veil on her opus. The record breathes slow before blooming into synth shimmer and guitar passages that thread through its roots, playing with her layered vocal passages in a symbiosis whose beauty covers up its effortless complexity.
The pound of drums crash irregularly, from high hills, from under still ponds, from the bones of houses reclaimed by the flora around them, but percussion seems almost too human in this greenhouse of sound. This stands as Louise’s grand statement among a run of seemingly giant leaps. If you haven’t been hooked into how far she’s pushed the guitar from its roots, then its about time to start with Earth Bow.
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