By Jonathan Fuchs, Music Director
[Mexican Summer; 2016]
Key Tracks: “Be Free,” “Can’t Go Home,” “Seven Words”
If Joni Mitchell lived for another 30 years and made a brand new record, the end result would probably sound a lot like Front Row Seat to Earth, the fourth record from folk project Weyes Blood. This album is a collection of psychedelic-folk tunes, 2016 could not be less ready for. It goes into the future and never feels familiar, but still gives the listener a warm, homey feeling inside. Starring the vocal and writing talents of Natalie Mering, and backed with the co-production of former Deerhoof member Chris Cohen, Front Row Seat to Earth takes influences from ’60s and ’70s folk music and combines it with futuristic instrumentation and self-described “A.M. radio atmospherics” to create something completely unique.
“Diary” opens up the album, which introduces the listener to Mering’s thoughtful lyrics and beautiful singing. Her voice soothes and heals with her falsetto-like pitch throughout the entire record. With its thick, intense production and lyrics about changing for your partner, “Diary” sets the mood for the rest of the album, which is covered in love songs with very detailed production and mixing.
Although at times it can feel a little droning, the slow, rich instrumentation Front Row Seat to Earth brings to the table is unreal. The multiple instruments featured throughout the record, including keys, organs, horns and flutes, bring so much life into every song. The flutes in the background of “Be Free” is a good example of this, as their melody bring a sense of catchiness and emotion into the already strong song, which features very nice guitars and vocal harmonies. “Can’t Go Home” is another remarkable track that features Mering’s harmonizing with herself as the instrumental, which sounds absolutely stunning.
Front Row Seat to Earth, hopefully, will change the way music fans look at folk music. The songs on this album can feel a little too long at times, with almost every song on this record ranging from about 4-6 minutes, but the entire experience is completely worth it. Front Row Seat to Earth truly is Weyes Blood’s best project yet, as it takes the genre of folk and turns it on its head to make something completely new.