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September 2019

Big Thief - Capacity

Striking beauty and pointed lyrics.
Big Thief - Capacity
Published: 11:02 am, June 07, 2017
Striking beauty and pointed lyrics.

Label: Saddle Creek
Released: 9th June 2017
Rating: ★★★★

Adrianne Lenker is an old soul trapped in a young body. She has certainly seen plenty in her 25 years, giving her enough stories to make a lifetime’s worth of material. From growing up in a cult to getting seriously injured by debris from a makeshift treehouse, Adrianne’s life is full of colour and challenges – and these experiences lend themselves perfectly to Big Thief’s homespun folk-rock.

‘Capacity’, the follow-up to 2016’s appropriately titled ‘Masterpiece’ is another raw and powerful collection of songs, intimate and sparse but possessing a wonderful storytelling narrative.

It should come with a health warning too; no album from 2017 is quite as emotional. ‘Mary’, a train of consciousness piano ballad, is almost cinematic in its breadth, but so striking and haunting it’s a challenge to hold the tears back. It’s not a song for repeated listens on public transport…

Elsewhere, the exceptional ‘Shark Smile’ emerges out of incidental orchestration to add some much-needed drive to an album that rarely gets above a muted hush. Likewise, the title track is an off-kilter indie-rock jam, driven by a left-field, almost ramshackle, arrangement that puts Adrianne’s gentle vocals on centre stage.

Yet it’s the storytelling quality of the lyrics that hits most. ‘Watering’ is a visceral, uncomfortable listen, emotionally charged and shocking in its brutality. It’s unflinching and painful to listen to, festering in the back of the mind long after it has finished. ‘Mythological Beauty’, meanwhile, deals with the fallout of the aforementioned treehouse incident. It portrays an unravelling of the family dynamic, yet paints a vivid picture of life growing up on the margins.

The earthen beauty of Big Thief ensures ‘Capacity’ is an organic and natural listen, yet its striking beauty and pointed lyrics will steal your heart. Rob Mair

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