The Cedar Presents
ADRIANNE LENKER (of Big Thief) with Luke Temple
Thursday Feb 21, 2019 Doors: 7:00 PM Show: 7:30 PM
$18 General Admission
This is a seated show. General Admission tickets are available online, by phone, at Depth of Field, Electric Fetus, and The Cedar during shows.
Adrianne Lenker has been writing songs since she was 10 years old. Her "back story" has been well documented in various interviews and profiles for Big Thief over the last 3 years. Despite, or more likely because of the constant touring and studio work, the last few years have been some of the most prolific for Lenker as a writer. Songs pop out at soundcheck. They pop out on late night drives between cities. They pop out in green rooms, hotel stairwells, gardens, and kitchens around the world.
In the hands of Lenker songwriting is not an old dead craft. It is alive. It is vital. With little regard for standard album cycle practice or the idea of resting at all, Lenker set out to make a document. Songs can be slippery and following 2+ years on the road with Big Thief, Lenker felt a growing need to document this particular time in her life in an intimate, immediate way. The result is her new album, abysskiss, out October 5th via Saddle Creek.
"I want to archive the songs in their original forms every few years," explains Lenker. "My first solo record I made was Hours Were the Birds. I had just turned 21 and moved to New York City where I was sleeping in a warehouse, working in a restaurant and photographing pigeons. Now five years later, another skin is being shed."
Following a two week road trip through the southwestern United States, Lenker headed into the studio with longtime friend Luke Temple. Temple put on his loosely fitting, bright orange, 100% wool producer hat and for one week they made music. The songs chosen for this collection were the songs that felt the most alive in the room. These are not castaways or B-sides. Some of these songs have been alive for years while some were written just days before the session. Some will appear in different future forms, some will not. The thread that connects these songs is not something that can easily be put down in words. Intuition connects these songs. They are a record of a time.
With this collection, Lenker further illuminates to the listening public what those close to her already know; here we have a songwriter of the highest order, following her voice and the greater Voices that pass through her with an unflinching openness and clarity of translation.
I want to call Luke Temple a disciple of Hank Williams and Roger Miller. I want to call him an avant-garde traditionalist. I want to say he’s got an unmatched intuition for the askew. I want to say his only real contemporary peer is another master songsmith named Cass McCombs. I could make a pretty infallible case for any of these statements. But at the end of the day, it’d be adding too many bells and whistles to what his new album is. At its core, it’s one of the year’s most stunning folk records. You should just let Temple’s high-and-lonesome salve of a voice raise your goose-pimples from their dormancy. You should let his insightful, devastating lyrics make tiny, tender tears in your soul.
A Hand Through the Cellar Door is, in many ways, Temple’s most straightforward collection of song-storying tunes to date. There are tales of dysfunctional, broken homes and of dysfunctional, broken people. “Birds of Late December,” with its fluttering, nimble fingerpicking, paints an exacting but impressionistic portrait of divorce through the eyes of an exceptionally wistful child. In both “Maryanne Was Quiet” and “The Case of Louis Warren” we follow two characters whose lives unravel in very different ways, though their central question is the same: After you shed all the things you think make you who you are, what is left? Temple is creating small, confident stories with a massive scope - like a good Alice Munroe story. Album standout “The Complicated Men of the 1940s” is a thought experiment concerning the sacrifice of a passing generation, where the heroes of yesterday seem like the stuffy, old guard to a new generation that’s grown just a bit too entitled to their comfort.
But this being Temple and all - the creative mind behind Here We Go Magic - nothing is really ever so straightforward. The arrangements, kept to a minimal drums/guitar/bass/string set-up here, expand and contract in unexpected ways.Temple writes with the eye of a painter like Eric Fischl. Whereas Fischl will put a subtle provocative image in the margins of a piece to create a feeling of imbalance, Temple will add a guitar hiccup or a just-behind-the-beat string section to create a sensation of everything being slightly off. And in that imbalance, both artists show us grace. Yes, while the tales Temple weaves are bleak, the aura of hope never quite fades from the picture. He turns the tragedies of human folly into a celebration of our eccentricities.