I write this post with shaking hands and a chill down my back. That’s just how much I love Cinder Well‘s upcoming release, No Summer. Not only do I love this album from the bottom of my heart, the track we’re getting to premiere from it today, “Our Lady’s”, is probably my favorite track from it. On it, we can hear the essence of the project, namely the deep, resonating folk they play and the unique and poetic approach to lyrics and subject matter which they take, attributes which remind us of artists like Dorthia Cottrell, Scott Kelly, and the master of melancholic folk, Townes van Zandt. The entire album is like that, filled with odes to nature, dirges for a world that is slipping away, and hope for a future where we all stand in solidarity, closer together. This track is a little bit of all of those themes, told from the unique perspective of a closed down and abandoned asylum. Head on over the link to get your taste and bring some tissues.
Just to be clear, I don’t think the track is exactly sad. It would be a mistake to use such a simplistic adjective to describe either it or any track on the album. The emotions involved are more like resignation, melancholy, nostalgia, and a dogged hope for a future where people hurt a little less. All of these emotions are beautifully conveyed not only through the wonderful, sonorous voice of Amelia Baker but also through the heart-wrinkling guitars and strings. Listen, for example, to the faintly strummed notes that accompany the outro to the track, after the beautiful interlude in its middle seems to unravel the sky above our heads. As the asylum retells its dreams and aspirations, its fervent hope for a better tomorrow for its former inhabitants and a desire for peace that burst its own pipes, the soft guitar is the storyteller’s drum, the rhythm of the tale unspooling around us.
Later, it is joined by returning strings, echoing their parts from the earlier moments on the track. It’s hard for me to capture how beautiful this last passage of the track is. It’s not just the lyrics, poignant in their structural metaphor for an aching soul. It’s not just the soft guitars, underpinning the entire thing. It’s not just the expert strings and their bowed sorrow. And it’s not just Baker’s enchanting and disarming timbre. Instead, it is all those things coming together to make Cinder Well and that combination leaves me speechless even as I’m writing this, even as I listen to this track for what must be, at least, the fiftieth time. And the thing is, the entire album is like this, incisive, poignant, and beautiful.
Cinder Well’s No Summer releases in just a few days, on July 24th. You can head on over to their Bandcamp to pre-order it. I urge you to do so.