by Grady Clark
Earlier this month, indie rock/folk band Big Thief released their fifth full-length album titled, Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You. While in their past albums the band existed somewhere in between folk and rock, on Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You they fully lean into the folksier side of things, and oh boy am I happy that they did!
Clocking in at 20 songs, this record strings together twanging banjo, fiddle, mouth harp, and the ever-present strumming of acoustic guitars into a modern masterpiece. Adrianne Lenker’s lyrics are transcendent, existing in a playful place between the natural world, story, and dream as they explore what it means to be homosapiens, our relationship with the planet, love affairs, extraterrestrials, midnight drives, and whatever a “simulation swarm” is.
This new release is so darn incredible that every song deserves its very own moment in the sun, so let me take you through it! The album seems to come in waves, kicking off the show with four bouncing folk songs, Change Time Escaping Spud Infinity and Certainty that make you tap your feet and hum, the last of which features a beautiful duet between Lenker and secondary vocalist Buck Meek. Ranging from topics such as how to “free the celestial body”, the ever-present rush of time, and the beauty of being in love, these four tracks make an awesome entrance into an awesome album. The story then morphs into the slightly somber alt-rock that Big Thief is known and loved for, with some new more electronic sounds appearing on tracks 8-10th tracks, Heavy Bend, Flower of Blood, and Blurred view respectively. Here we see look into a warped and beautiful longing that comes through in these visceral powerful and immersive songs. Then comes the country-inspired track right at the flip of the record, Red Moon. All I can say about Red Moon is that they had fun making it, and it’s hard not to have fun while listening to it! The next six lines are pure poetry, slowing down and focusing on Lenker’s wavering vocals as she serenades the audience with lines such as
“I’ve been listening to the red oak ad the acorn she cries, listening to the white birch and the paper she drives, I’ve been listening to the frogs joke, Listening to the firesmoke”
This stretch here really has my heart. These songs just fill you up to the brim. Of course, when there’s a strong beginning and middle, there has got to be a strong finish and that’s just what we get. This is where the Big Thief of it all is really packed in. The perfect union of country, rock, folk, and electronic shines through as Lenker finishes the story declaring “love love love” and serenading the “blue lightning”.
Here’s the thing, I am no music critic, nor an expert on folk or rock or country music. However! I know artistry when I hear it, and let me tell you what this band just created is just that artistry. It’s a long album, stuffed to the gills with everything under the sun. Yet it is worth your time! Each song is an absolute treat. So get your dancing shoes, your crying eyes, and your big open heart, and press play on Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You.