Mary Elizabeth Remington’s In Embudo evokes Walt Whitman’s Song Of Myself. This is music of the earth where “every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.” There’s nothing famous here; but this is very democratic American music. It’s the music that elects great presidents. It’s the music that tips a waitress an extra couple of bucks. This is music that churns its own butter. And, as my friend, Kilda Defnut, says, “This music has melodic calloused scarecrow hands”.
In a way, this is at times weirdly surreal like Jack Kerouac baptismal prose, with a breathy hum carved into each log cabin groove. This is bare-bones stuff that finds its melodies in Massachusetts’ Moose Branch River.
‘All Words’ is an acoustic guitar and soulful vocal tune that’s framed with slight steel percussion and immense beauty. The song floats on aged wisdom. The gentle ambered simplicity of Vashti Bunyan comes to mind, as does the reel-to-reel recorded somber sounds of the lesser- known German folk singer, Sibylle Baier, whose album, Colour Green also contains rough-hewn late-night beauty.
Voices (shared with Adrianne Lenker of Big Thief fame!) come to the fore in several songs. ‘Dresser Hill’ is a soft reflection on a life’s love. And ditto for ‘Mary Mary’ as the two voices slowly dance with a hymn’s grace, and a bit of a chuckled laugh in the midst of the harmony, punctuates the album’s homespun hand-woven touch. Indeed, ‘Green Grass’ is a brief solo voiced request for happiness. Mary Elizabeth’s side is “wild and gone to seed”, and she hopes for nothing more in life.
The band (Mat Davidson on bass and steel drums and James Krivchenia on percussion) contributes to ‘Fine Fire’, which has a haunted melody and a dramatic vocal. This is lovely music, with even more aged wisdom, harmony voices, and a sensitive acoustic guitar.
Now, not only does this music crave the vintage vinyl sound on current demand in our modern time, but as my friend, Kilda Defnut (who really likes the album!) also commented, “If authenticity is measured by the purity of a stylus’ vibrations through grooves, then this record should get an Edison cylinder release in order to catch the music’s true timeless passion”.
Well, thank you, Kilda, and continue to turn the crank on the Tin Foil Phonograph, because, oh my, the next song, ‘Holdfast’, holds an e pluribus unum pulse not dissimilar to the funky groove of The Band’s ‘Up On Cripple Creek’. That’s very weird and big praise. And Mary Elizabeth’s vocals defy heavy gravity and punch at the ghosts of Americana sainthood. This is a song from the deep mythical Moose Branch River currents.
There’s more music that always tips a waitress a couple of extra bucks. ‘Tuesday’ returns to the harmony vocal featherbed sound. Then in contrast, ‘Mother’ is yet another solo voiced tune that gets incredibly psychological with simple wisdom. This is tenderness personified and moves folk music into the world of deep art. In contrast (again!), ‘Wind Wind’ glides on a steel petal ride and the slow wings of a gentle melody. And ‘Water Song’, with slight nature ambience, embraces an Eastern vibe crossed with the solemnity of a gospel prayer.
The final song, ‘Country Roads’, returns to the full acoustic guitar, bass, percussive, and vocal salvation sound that hears the “whispering” of those “leaves of grass” that touches (perhaps!) the impossible circumference of a Nick Drake tune. Great folk music will always sing, “Now we rise/And we are everywhere”. Indeed. And this music sings the promise of “making homemade biscuits and giving them all away”. Perhaps, all good music should, as Edison’s new “record machine” (Thank you Bernie Taupin!), when speaking its first words while spinning on that cylinder, popped and crackled a kind message to us all that simply, when recorded for grooved eternity, “bid us a cordial good night”. Thankfully, In Embudo, still, after countless revolutions, continues to sing the sincerity of those wise words.
Artist’s website (or her PR’s at least): http://sonicpr.co.uk/artists/mary-elizabeth-remington/
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