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ALBUM REVIEW: Weyes Blood, And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow

Grade: B+

The music of Natalie Mering, better known as Weyes Blood, has always evoked the timeless romance of ‘70s radio pop. Rather than play dress up with a vintage sound, she becomes the next iteration of a group like Carpenters and Crofts and Seals. In order to receive the torch from that generation, a new artist must innovate. With her masterpiece ‘Titanic Rising’, Mering did just that. Tracks like “Andromeda” and especially “Movies”, produced alongside Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado, employed filmic score elements to bolster the beauty of the simply written but powerful guitar ballads. With her latest effort And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow, the two are able to conjure up ten more intriguing tracks that push her formula forward.

On ...Hearts Aglow, love is a fiery but destructive beacon in the dark, chaotic uncertainty of life. Without a helping hand, Merig posits, human beings fall into an unforgiving abyss. The title track brilliantly uses the metaphor of a ferris wheel to convey this, while “Grapevine” compares love to a head on collision. Each song functions as a vignette with the sole purpose of housing as many poetic sentiments as possible. Some of my favorites are

“California’s my body / And your fire runs over me” [on “Grapevine”]

“It's the curse of losing yourself when the mirror takes you too far” [on “God Turn Me Into A Flower”]

The instrumentals incorporate viola, harp, wurlitzer, grand piano and more, under Mering’s absolutely stunning vocals. Songs like “God Turn Me Into A Flower” and “Children of the Empire” see her starting off fragile before rising into her upper register for climatic finishes. While themes of loneliness are certainly everflowing, it’s her performances that give these words a glimmer of hope. Whether it’s by way of celebrating youth, resilience or mutual respect of a lover, this is a joyous 47 minutes that feels like a neoclassic upon first listen.

All in all, this is one of the best singer-songwriter projects you will hear all year.

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