Adrianne Lenker – abysskiss

By Maria Lubanovic, Copy Editor
[Saddle Creek; 2018]
Rating: 6.5/10

Key Tracks: “terminal paradise”, “cradle”, “abyss kiss”

You may know Adrianne Lenker as the singer-songwriter of Big Thief, but her solo work stands apart. By herself, she is gentle, loving and calm, asking existential questions and trying to find solace in her songwriting. abysskiss is almost completely carried by Lenker’s vocals and acoustic guitar stylings, creating a soothing and emotional collection of work.

Read More: Album Review: Long Neck – Will This Do?

Because Lenker is especially known for her lyrics, it makes sense that some of her best lyrical work is deeply personal. On “terminal paradise”, she sings pure poetry about how when she dies she will become something out of a dream sequence singing “let me rest, let me go / see my death become a trail / and the trail leads to a flower / I will blossom in your sail / every dreamed and waking hour.

Many themes on this album are steeped in the companionship of other women. “womb” communicates a deep appreciation for a woman who freely sings and who Lenker will never “bind you with a diamond or a word.” She also sings of mutual pain and healing and alludes to the burden that many women carry.

Though most of the tracks on this album are lyrically strong yet ambiguous, the background tracks push this album above just a poetic reading. The background ambiance swirls and pushes, most noticeably on “cradle”, almost creating a rocking feel, complementing the lyrics. These tracks emphasize Lenker’s guitar skill, letting her finger-pick her way underneath. “symbol” shares this in a more upbeat way, especially under a chorus of “the symbol of your love is time.”

There are tracks on this album that are solely for Lenker, because some of the lyrics and symbolism are pushed so far that they are difficult for us to interpret. “blue and red horses” is probably the best example of this, with lyrics like “blue and red horses on the run / I think the angel is jumping the gun / little red lantern watching my son / maybe the angel is jumping the gun.” Maybe this has a deeper meaning, but it’s not skin deep. This leaves a lot of the tracks up to interpretation. Horses become symbols that come back in “abyss kiss” and “10 miles”.

Everything in this album seems to be cyclical, with the final track, “10 miles” bringing back the themes of death established in “terminal paradise” and showing how the passage of time can take memories and blur them into something tangible yet poetic and tragic. It’s a beautiful ending and gives us some sort of closure to grab on to.

This album is only 33 minutes long, and the themes and poetry leave us begging for more. The album wraps us in warmth and lets us bask in it.

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