Weyes Blood – [Album]

Weyes Blood – [Album]

Thursday, 02 February 2023

Weyes Blood
And In the Darkness, Hearts Aglow
(Sub Pop Records)
In her current incarnation as pop songstress, musician Weyes Blood may have produced the definitive post-Covid album. Sweet melodies, lush orchestration and a beautiful voice combine to express the relief and pleasure of passing through the crisis. The instrumentation is standard pop — piano, guitar, synthesizer washes, arranged into sweeping waves of music.

Weyes Blood has claimed “church music” as a great influence on her work, which is a good description of this album; with little direct reference to religion, the music is expansive and reverent. It inspires awe and a sense of something larger than ourselves. She sets the stage with the opener, “It’s Not Just Me, It’s Everybody.” It captures a common sentiment of the pandemic: the feeling of isolation, of being alone. “Does anybody really know me?” she sings. But, by the end of the song, she realizes “It’s not just me, it’s everybody.” Yet there is a sense that this thought isn’t as comforting as one might hope for (made more apparent by the video for the song, which I won’t spoil).

Throughout are verses about reemerging into the world, but still being lost. “Hearts aglow, we don’t know where we’re going… I’ve been waiting for my life to begin for so long…” (“Hearts Aglow”). “Looking like some clear sky… but we’re all lost…. How much can you take/ and when are you going to be okay?” (“Children of the Empire”). “It kept me waiting in the dark” (“Twin Flame”).

Yet within all this hope and beauty, a certain darkness lingers underneath everything. Even the album title indicates this; yes the hearts are aglow, but they are still in the darkness. Or take “God Turn Me Into a Flower” (a rare direct reference to religion), at first listen, it seems like a sweet sentiment. But then you catch the lyrics: “It’s good to be soft/ when they push you down/… It’s such a curse to be so hard/ you shatter easily/ and can’t pick up all those shards.” Is it really such a sweet wish? Is she seeking escape, transcendence, or just an easier existence? Maybe I’m overthinking it, but what starts feeling beautiful ends up creeping me out just a little.

It all comes into a climax with the penultimate song, “The Say the Worst Is Done,” an evaluation of where we all stand after the pandemic. “It’s been a long strange year/ Everyone said they lost what they thought they had.” But the final lines are, “but I think the worst has only just begun.”

It might seem like Weyes Blood’s earlier, noisier music, as on her album, The Outside Room, might be more appropriate for an album about CoVid, but the beauty of her music here fits the theme. It captures the excitement, even joy, of coming through those rough times. But it seems to me that the point is that the fear and depression still linger there, they still underlie our every feeling these days.

If you want to listen to this album and only see the beauty of it, don’t let me deprive you of that. It is a beautiful album. Or you could listen to it as a story of lost love (there are plenty of lyrics to support that as well). But when I listen, I can’t help but hear the darkness beneath the joy. [G. Murray Thomas]


Weyes Blood – And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow – [Youtube]

And In the Darkness, Hearts Aglow is out now. Buy it here, from the artist’s official website.

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