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🌵 Sessions: Big Thief – Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You

March 8, 2022

I had never heard of Big Thief until a recent episode of Indie Cast where cohost Steven Hyden raved about this album. I went to his Uproxx review:

Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You for a few months, and it already feels like the kind of album that’s destined to be handed down from generation to generation, like Automatic For The People (R.E.M) or Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (Wilco). It’s music I know I will reach for on epic road trips or in the midst of profound grief. An all-timer. A masterpiece.”

That caught my attention. I gave it a listen and I liked it, but did not love it. But it is a grower and with each listen I liked it more and now I am hooked – if not a bit obsessed.

It is a wonderfully weird album. It is both tossed off and ambitious. I don’t know what to make of it, but I like it. I hear so many things: Radiohead, The Band, Bon Iver, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, John Prine, Stevie Nicks, Emmylou Harris – I will stop there – this is a deep album.

I liked it enough to buy a vinyl copy from Stinkweed Records in Phoenix. Tangent: Stinkweed is a nice little record store with a good selection of new vinyl. I did not do a deep exploration, but what I sampled suggested this is a well curated shop. Staff is friendly and without the usual record store pretensions. I will be back.

Although the Big Thief has a distinctive vocalist in Adrianne Lenker, this LP has a strong band vibe. I don’t know how to prove that point, it is just a feeling I have given how interesting the music conversation is between the players.

Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You is a double album that clocks in at one hour and twenty minutes. It sounds like a few versions of the band. Which is not surprising given the album’s concept. Per Wikipedia, the album was produced by the band’s drummer James Krivchenia, who conceived the concept of the album. The band would travel to four different locations: Upstate New York, Topanga Canyon in California, the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, and the Colorado mountains. They would record at four different studios with four separate engineers, and go to each place with a specific sonic plan in mind. Krivchenia’s intent was to capture a full expression of Lenker’s songwriting and the band onto a single album.

The concept worked and this is a spectacular album. Despite different palettes, there is a cohesion to the album. The album has diverse dynamics: from quite acoustic tunes to loud electric jams – in essence Neil Young’s career.

For an interesting take on Big Thief check out this New York Times podcast where a critic, who is a hater, talks to two critic/fans.

From → Music Reviews

One Comment
  1. I really liked their two records from 2019 as well.

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