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Widowspeak – Almanac

on January 28, 2013, 12:00am

The cover of  Almanac bears a slight resemblance to the sleeve of Fleetwood Mac’s iconic Rumours: both feature a man and a woman, the former clad in a vest, gazing down at the latter whose arched body is engulfed in a long dress. But it was more 1979’s Tusk that Widowspeak producer Kevin McMahon (Swans, Real Estate) aimed to pull from for this Brooklyn duo’s sophomore effort.

Those sounds of Fleetwood Mac flair on the “Rhiannon”-esque “Dyed in the Wool”; on Robert Earl Thomas’ formerly hazy and subdued guitar wails on what he calls “the most straight-forward rock song on the album,” “The Dark Age”; and in Molly Hamilton’s croon (often likened to the sound of Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval), which consistently demands more attention here than on 2011’s self-titled release.

All of these pieces plait most successfully on “The Ballad of the Golden Hour”, which layers sonic sounds on top of what starts out as simply Hamilton and an acoustic guitar. The song centers on nostalgia and the passage of time, and the frontwoman sounds at her most vulnerable as she repeatedly croons “It’s all slowing down.” This tone is set from the get-go, as album-opener “Perennials” offers the melancholy sentiment, “Nothing lasts long enough.”

“Sore Eyes”, the only track that could have come from previous albums Widowspeak or The October Tape, halts the record some, but the rest of Almanc’s 12 tracks dabble with Americana, the sounds of the ’70s, and the band’s already-established dreamy haze, resulting in a record that satisfies with each homage.

Essential Tracks: “The Ballad of the Golden Hour”, “The Dark Age” 

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