Shortly after the release of their 2011 self-titled debut, Widowspeak drummer and founder Michael Stasiak left the band; it was the blow that drove singer Molly Hamilton and guitarist Robert Earl Thomas to make a better album. Hamilton and Thomas loaded up on classic rock and headed north to New Paltz, NY, to work with Real Estate/Titus Andronicus producer Kevin McMahon on Almanac, released this week on Captured Tracks. The escape provided the pair with the pastoral breezes that inspired the album they were in the midst of creating.
Ever the fan of pictorial country and western music (where she "can see the open plains" when she listens), Hamilton recalls from Brooklyn that similarly visual songs like fireflies-at-dusk closer "Storm King" were really born upstate. See also "Thick as Thieves," a ghostly, creaking waltz where the shimmer and hum of harpsichord and harmonium create almost as much atmosphere as they do melody.
Almanac builds on its predecessor by finding more complexity in some places and getting simpler in others. Not having a real drummer is a big part of why this works. And if the beardo-meets-bella donna pastiche of the cover isn't enough of a giveaway, the quirky drum sounds of late '70s Fleetwood Mac are a big factor."We were totally listening to Tusk and trying to get that flat drum sound," says Hamilton regarding Almanac's dumbed-down but lovable grooves. The super-simple, almost drum-machine-like sounds are most evident in splendid single "Ballad of the Golden Hour," where the drums emerge from nowhere mid-song.
Noteworthy drum choices aside, the reason to hear Widowspeak is still Hamilton's bending voice, which compares to a candy-red Danelectro 6-string with a sparkle finish. "That's funny, because my first guitar was a Danelectro reissue," says the singer. "It was, like, peach colored."
THE PHOENIX + BOWERY BOSTON PRESENT WIDOWSPEAK + QUILT + MURALS ::GREAT SCOTT, 1222 COMM AVE, ALLSTON :: JANUARY 27 @ 9 PM :: 18+ :: $10 617.566.9014 OR GREATSCOTTBOSTON.COM
: Music Features
, Music, Widowspeak, What's F'n Next