The new Weyes Blood record, Front Row Seat To Earth, is the folk music of the near future. Natalie Mering, the being behind Weyes Blood, embeds her sublime songs in a harmonic gauze of arpeggiated piano, acoustic guitar, druggy horns, and outer space electronics. Propulsive, spare drums carry us across the album's course. There is a faded California beauty to Front Row... A gentle honesty that recalls the finest folk music made on the West Coast of the ‘70s. The hue hangs in the sweet-spooky harmonies, the pulsing sway of the vibrato, and the ecstatic chord resolves. It is the joyful release of energy as the song delicately unfolds from intro to extrospection.
But this beauty is scratched with shadow; with dark foreboding, alienation, and acceptance of change. Love and loss balance together in suspended alchemy, as the earthiness of the singer-songwriter tradition wears digital sounds like feathers in its hair. Mering, together with co-producer Chris Cohen and some special guests, contrasts live band intimacy with the post-modern electric sheen of A.M. radio atmospherics. The experimental flourishes sparkle amid the succinct, thoughtful arrangements.
The closeness of this record – how personal, alone, and frank it feels – conceals its aspirations to the outside, to the "Earth" of its title. Weyes Blood harbors devastating weight while also universalizing the strange ways of identity and relationships. These are not typical love songs or protest songs – they are painful, poignant riddles that celebrate the ambiguity of love and affirm the conflict of harmonious life within a disharmonic world.