Weekend Intermission is our regular feature where we look at an artist or band not from the Nordic countries, just to mix things up a bit.
I do believe this is the first time that Weyes Blood (Natalie Mering) has featured in this section of NMC and indeed it is only within the last year or so I even discovered her.
When I did it was by chance, and by way of, the incredible piece of work that is her song – well, better ‘composition’ I suppose – ‘Movies’ and the video that goes with it. (When you’ve finished with this one, check it out, you won’t regret it.
I could immediately understand why she is classed in a trilogy of top female alt-pop/folk artists (those are pretty broad generalisations) in the USA, along with Angel Olsen and Sharon Van Etten.
While she’s changed her musical styles (along with her artist name) over the years one constant today is her ability to write music that is so evidently film score standard that you wonder why someone like Hans Zimmer hasn’t taken her under his wing (or his frame). Perhaps he already has.
Indeed, in her ‘experimental’ stage earlier in her career, some people likened her songs to horror film soundtracks. So she began to listen to and be influenced by film soundtracks such as ‘Jaws’ and the ‘Wizard of Oz.’ They, together with church music (she was brought up in a deeply religious family and rejected that religion once she was old enough to have her own opinions), seem to have determined her musical development.
‘Movies’, from her last album, ‘Titanic Rising’, isn’t representative in any way of them, or of that development; rather it signifies how she wishes her life had the simplicity of a movie, with a predetermined beginning, middle and end and a meaning to it, some sort of destiny. Searching for meaning, especially of life, weighs heavily in her songs.
And she often does it with overwhelming layers of acoustic and electronic sound which build and build. Think Enya and you won’t be far away.
And so with ‘It’s Not Just Me, It’s Everybody’, a ‘we’re all in this together, no man is an island’ affirmation which doesn’t find a solution but does offer solace to one and all:
“Has a time ever been more revealing/That the people are hurting/Oh, it’s not just me/I guess it’s everybody/Yes, we all bleed the same way”.
Bear in mind of course that it is written primarily for a US audience, in a country that is in a worse place right now than it has been since the Founding Fathers drew up their Constitution.
It opens in a way you’d expect to accompany opening film credits like those of 20th Century Fox, Columbia or Universal As usual it builds towards a scintillating climax with, this time, what sounds like a harp and a mandolin conspiring to overshadow the synth line. Now that is unusual.
And as ever there’s Natalie’s rich, luxuriant contralto voice to soothe your way through the lyrical outpouring. It could just be Karen Carpenter, couldn’t it…?
‘It’s Not Just Me, It’s Everybody’ is out now and is the first single from her forthcoming album ‘And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow’, due on November 18th, both on the Sub Pop label. The album, what she calls “a dystopian romance novel” is the second in a designated trilogy of which ‘Titanic Rising’ was the first.
She has five live dates in the UK (London, Bristol, Glasgow, Manchester and Brighton) and one in Ireland (Dublin) in February 2023 during her ‘In Holy Flux’ tour.
Find her on: