Louisville singer, songwriter and guitarist returns with a set that leans lightly on irish and english folk histories, as well as Kentucky's bluegrass tradition, but Shelley's no revivalist. Her songs are classic and poetic. Much of this album was recorded in Iceland. Breath warm from singing rises into frozen air. Atomized. A million bright blue crystals — the fractal branching of the lungs — drift back to earth. Radiant, refracting. Clear notes melt like perfect soft snow. Straight lines curve and curve again. Much of this album was recorded in Iceland, but Joan Shelley wrote these songs in Kentucky. That’s the dirt clinging to their roots. The wind blowing through Osage orange and pine trees is the joy and ache and urgency of these songs. It’s the silence and the music. It’s the space between time and words and the stillness in Joan’s voice. The world spins more slowly. Moss overtakes a fallen tree. Kentucky is where we plant seeds of regret and stay to watch them flower. Maybe Mark Twain said that Kentucky (always five years behind the times) was the perfect place to ride out the apocalypse. Maybe it’s twenty years. Maybe it’s apocryphal. That doesn’t mean it isn’t true.
Maybe the world outside has already vaporized. Maybe we’re already living on borrowed time. Nathan Salsburg’s guitar pours out clean as water through his fingers, turning over every smooth stone. Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s harmonies stretch time tight enough to break without breaking. Joan’s voice calls us back. Birds are singing outside. Insistent. Don’t miss what’s right in front of you.
Joan Shelley - Like The River Loves The Sea LP Released 30/08/19
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