In Re­view: Weyes Blood’s ‘Front Row Seat to Earth’

Cecil Whig - - ACCENT - By JOE ANTOSHAK

jan­toshak@ches­pub.com

At times on the new al­bum from indie out­fit Weyes Blood, you can’t quite tell where you are. The aes­thetic (artist pres­ence, voice, song ar­range­ments) feels rather folk, but the way Natalie Mer­ing, who is the band, vo­cal­izes with such thick, haunt­ing tones makes you ques­tion what it is you’re ac­tu­ally lis­ten­ing to. I still don’t re­ally know, but I like it. The new al­bum, “Front Row Seat to Earth” (out on the Brook­lyn-based Mex­i­can Sum­mer, Oct. 21), seems de­fined by just how tran­si­tional and eva­sive it is. It’s ten­der and brim­ming with emo­tion on songs like “Do You Need My Love” and “Seven Words,” but never lets the au­di­ence too close to the artist, or even the sub­ject, for that mat­ter. Mer­ing has al­ready said her next record will be more per­sonal than this one, so what we have then is an ac­count of the artist in growth.

Mer­ing, who’s in her late 20s now, grew up in Santa Mon­ica, Cal­i­for­nia, the daugh­ter of two mu­si­cally-minded peo­ple: her mother some­one who was al­ways writ­ing songs and her fa­ther an ex-pro­fes­sional mu­si­cian in the L.A. scene of the 1970s and 80s, who wound up ditch­ing that life for Chris­tian­ity.

Her fam­ily moved to Penn­syl­va­nia in 1999, and in her early teens she re­volted against the re­li­gion her par­ents be­lieved. In high school, she read Flan­nery O’Connor’s book “Wise Blood,” which is where her group’s name comes from. In re­cent years she’s been trav­el­ing, liv­ing in a num­ber of cities and ap­par­ently refin­ing her sound.

Now, she de­liv­ers her lyrics with a low, satin-smooth voice. On the above-men­tioned song, “Do You Need My Love,” she opens with “Tired of feel­ing so bad. / The world that I knew / just fell through.”

Her vo­cal tal­ent is unique, some­thing of a cross be­tween Joan Baez and Judee Sill, but even that’s not quite right. There’s no good cat­e­gory to put her or this al­bum in, ex­cept maybe “orig­i­nal.”

She has mu­sic videos out for sev­eral songs on “Front Row Seat to Earth,” in­clud­ing “Do You Need My Love,” “Gen­er­a­tion Why” and “Seven Words.” Check those out to get an idea of what I mean.

Ver­dict: 4 out of 5

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