Chelsea Wolfe creates urgent desolation blues, spinning somber Americana into cinematic modern highway ballads. Her gift as a songwriter is never more apparent than when she strips her songs down to a few key elements. As a result, her solemn majesty and ominous elegance are more potent than ever on her newest LP, Birth of Violence.
Birth of Violence is a return to the reclusive nature of heChelsea Wolfe Drops Video For “Be All Things”r earlier recordings, written and recorded in the solitude of her remote home in Northern California. The sparse acoustic arrangements allow for Wolfe’s woeful longing and beguiling gravity to settle without overcrowding her haunting narratives. The album stretches her innate skillset, bleeding into the realms of experimental freak folk, while keeping her tethered to the singer-songwriter tradition. But rather than using her music as a confessional or diary, Wolf tends to gravitate to more esoteric experiences and age-old themes.
“I wanted to write some sort of escapist music; songs that were just about being in your body, and getting free,” Wolfe says of the album before extrapolating on the broader scope of her new collection of songs. “You’re just bombarded with constant bad news, people getting fucked over and killed for shitty reasons or for no reason at all, and it seems like the world has been in tears for months, and then you remember it’s been fucked for a long time, it’s been fucked since the beginning. It’s overwhelming and I have to write about it.”
It’s an album that Wolfe sees as a kind of exorcism. “The record became very personal in that way,” she reflect. “I wanted to open up more, but also create my own reality.” Wolf howls at the moon with the painful reverie “When Anger Turns to Honey” while drowning her troubles in the Radiohead-esque warmth of “Erde.” The album closer, “The Mother Road” is the most like her earlier work, reminding us of her ease with more straightforward Americana material.
It seems as though every Chelsea Wolfe album is cathartic, but never before has both the artist and her audience so desperately needed this kind of emotional purging.
review by Mike Ollinger
Birth of Violence comes out on September 14th via Sargent House