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