"Bright Future" by Adrianne Lenker Album Review by Ben Lock for Northern Transmissions


Bright Future

Adrianne Lenker

Adrianne Lenker will make you cry with her new album. And that’s not because it’s sad, although in ways it is. It’s because you can feel the natural and honest emotion radiating from the room of Adrianne’s double infinity studio with each song.

Adrianne spells her heart out word by word on Bright Future: “You have my heart, and I want it back.” The 32 year old Songwriter sings on the heartbreaking track “Evol.” To give a bit of a context, this album was not originally intended to be an album. Its early intention was to be an experiment of songs with no external expectations. Adrianne paired up with past collaborator Phillip Weinrobe and a handful of some of her favorite musicians and friends to endure this experiment in songwriting. There was no pressure of expectations or high hopes for an album, and it sounds like that’s what made these songs sound so relaxed and natural. The results have made my favorite Adrianne Lenker album; I’m forever grateful for that. The energy and emotion between the strings, piano, and guitar are unbelievable, and the recordings fit the songs so perfectly. You can even hear chairs squeaking in the back of the mix.

The opening song of this album is “Real House,” a reflection on childhood that is performed in an intimate and curious way that feels 100% unique to this album. The track’s subject matter feels so poetic, relating to the name of the album Bright Future, starting an album about the future with a song reflecting on the past. The second song, the beautiful campfire ballad “Sadness As a Gift” paints a vivid picture of Adrienne’s outlook on life and love with a vocal delivery that will give you shivers. The way this track evolves instrumentally with the strings and piano is a perfect backing for the lyrical narrative delivered.

When I first saw Big Thief, it was one of the most emotional and influential musical moments I’ve ever experienced, and ever since that night, I have been absolutely stunned by everything Adriannes released. I mention the show because I absolutely fell in love with her style of guitar playing and her expression through the instrument, and I love her unique approach to the concept of a guitar riff. This is wonderfully showcased in “Fool”. The melody feels like it’s never finished; it feels unresolved, and the timing of how she’s playing it increases that effect. I love this song so much. The fragile mood in “No Machine” is an exquisite and essential moment on this record and feels like another song that came together so naturally. The imagery in Adrianne’s poetry is highly potent and unlike any other. It’s no surprise that “Free Treasure” fits that exact description. The lyrics following are some of my favorite on the whole record: “Do you want to go to the river I know this spot is so deep and green, where the wild raspberries and apple trees and rocks to climb between water like a washing machine”

The next track, “Vampire Empire,” is an acoustic version of one of the most iconic Big Thief songs yet. The performance showcases Adrianne’s electric vocal delivery and lyrics in the song, accompanied by strings and group backing vocals. The somber track to lead us into the b side of this record is “Evol,” A heartbreaking ballad that evolves through the run time with beautiful piano and strings. “Candle Flame” sounds like a lost country song from the likes of Joan Baez or Joni Mitchell; its gently strummed guitar and glimmering piano lines fill the song with satisfying textures. Adrianne has a way of pairing a simple melody with the right chord changes and the perfect amount of surprises, and the next track, “Almost Lost,” is a perfect showcase of that.

The delicate and tender acoustic number “Cell Phone Says” Will give you chills and create a big smile on your face. It’s very good. The second last track on Bright Future is “Donut Seam,” another short and sweet acoustic song filled with gorgeous harmonies and lyrical imagery to lead us into the emotional closer track “Ruined,” which is how I felt after the first listen. Just Kidding. Well, not really. This song moved me in a completely unique way. This is one of those songs where I think, “ Wow, this must have felt nice to write this.” It just flows so nicely, and the chorus melody is infectious and beautifully performed. A perfect ending. Bravo.

Pre-order Bright Future HERE.


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