During the past three decades, cosmic drifter Meg Baird has always piqued the interest of crate diggers and experimental rock enthusiasts alike. Perhaps most famous for her involvement with Drag City folk veterans, Espers, Baird’s work spans far and wide across the experimental landscape.
Also a part of the excellent Baird Sisters, Furling marks the San Franciscan artist’s fourth solo release and follows 2015’s Don’t Weigh Down the Light. Since, Baird has spearheaded Heron Oblivion, their excellent 2016 self-titled debut LP also featuring Howlin’ Rain/Comets on Fire chief, Ethan Miller, as well as collaborating with Mary Lattimore on the Ghost Forest LP. In between, Baird has featured on releases from the likes of Steve Gunn, Bill Callahan, Sharon Van Etten and many more.
In a solo capacity, Furling sees Baird make a welcomed return, with a series of tender-hearted numbers that make the heart skip a beat (led by penultimate track, Will You Follow Me Home?)
Opening song, Ashes, Ashes, begins with a series of vital brush strokes across the canvass. A neon glow instrumental with Baird’s ghostly whispers that are like an echo through the Grand Canyon.
The campfire moodscapes of Star Hill Song and Cross Bay set the tone for Furling. Laurel Canyon-inspired songcraft with gentle washes of reverb and soft hazy colours that form imagery via sound. In particular, Cross Bay – a love-inspired number that sees Baird drifting slightly out of her comfort zone, and the kind of song that can only be written through the shards of a broken heart.
On Ship Captains, Baird mixes a rich elegance with earthy songcraft inspired by the ’70s. It’s where Baird feels most comfortable, and Furling is all the better for it.
With back porch guitar picks and twangs, album highlight, Twelve Saints, is a product of space and timelessness. It’s one of the finest songs Baird has written, underpinning the album. Meanwhile, Unnamed Drives maintains Furling’s earthiness. The core of traditional songwriting without the need to overblow or embellish things. A direction, in fact, that many of us wanted Weyes Blood’s Natalie Mering’s to take on her latest LP, And in the Darkess, Hearts Aglow.
Ending with the piano-led Wreathing Days, Baird’s performance is like a clarion call to the lonely hearts. Hymnal in both vibe and tone, Wreathing Days marks an appropriate end to Furling.
Once again, Baird presents her art in unobtrusive ways. Her songs don’t pull you in, they gently guide you to a peaceful place in your own time. It’s a kind of mystifying power that all aspiring artists should take note of, and while Baird has been doing this for years, more people should be paying attention to her uncanny force.
Furling is out via Drag City. Purchase from Bandcamp.
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