Sleep Paralysis, I Sworn I Could've Felt You There
The quiet, purposeful openness of Adrianne Lenker's voice undoes me. Like pulling apart the laces of a tightly tied shoe, the soft tone of her latest record (unassumingly titled songs) does something to me that so few artists are capable of.
Best known for her role within the phenomenal Big Thief, much like fellow bandmate Buck Meek's recent output, the musicians of Big Thief are as unmissable when they make music on their own as they are when they make it together. Contained within Lenker's latest beautiful collection, however, one song in particular stands out shiningly as a testament to this artist's astonishing capabilities. 'Zombie Girl' is the best song I've heard in all of October, and single-handedly marks songs as heavily recommended listening for 2020.
Crossing these holocene-ic guitar layers with light trickles of windchimes and bird calls, 'Zombie Girl' finds Lenker accompanied by sparse, folky sounds - utterly absorbed into the colourful foliage of its cover and quietly reflective of an incalculable introspection that I'm as in love with now as I was the first time I heard it.
I've always been a sucker for folk, but Lenker does more than just tap into my biases for acoustic guitars and wistful lyricism. Intensely melancholic, yet deeply uplifting, the emotional paradox that builds within this song is why I keep coming back. Hearing Lenker offer up
"Vacant as a closed down fair
Sleep paralysis, I sworn I could've felt you there
And I almost could've kissed your hair"
never lands without a heartbreaking emotional impact for me - and I keep letting it break me apart again and again.
This is Lenker at her best - level with the successes of Masterpiece or Hours Were the Birds - delivering a song (and an album) that I just can't see anyone disliking. Listen to it now.
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Thanks for reading! Slow Motion Panic Masters is a music, arts and culture blog created and edited by Ben Wheadon, a literature student and musician based at the University of Oxford. He is also a Fleet Foxes shill.
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