The most painful moments in artists lives can make up some of their best work. It’s a tragic circumstance to be lauded for something that has caused so much pain. For Phil Elverum having his wife pass away and taking that experience and turning it in to a heartbreaking meditation on her death with the album A Crow Looked At Me must have been the ultimate cold comfort. Elverum, through his project Mount Eerie has been crafting well thought out, beautiful low fi songs over the last twenty years and now he is looking back with a follow up to his 2008 release Lost Wisdom, a collaboration with Canadian singer songwriter Julie Doiron, with his latest release, the lovely and sparse Lost Wisdom, PT. 2.
Lost Wisdom, PT. 2 sees Elverum, with Doiron, diving into the last couple years of his life, after the loss of his wife and another short lived marriage, one he blames the dissolution of because of his lingering grief. It is never easy to listen to anyone pour their heart out so openly transparent but Elverum does so in such a transfixing way that you’ll find yourself letting his words and music wash right through you. The just over seven minute opener “Belief” is the perfect way for the album to begin. It settles you right into the pace of what the next thirty minutes are going to be like. Elverum sings openly about his wife’s passing, “I used to walk around basically begging the sky/For some calamity to challenge my foundation/When I was young/So imagine what it was like to watch up close a loved one die/And then look into the pit/I lived on the edge of it/And had to stay there” and the new love he found after “Out of nowhere love returned/I saw what looked like a god who walks among us/I met her and we fell so in love”. The droning piano and guitar float effortlessly over Elverum and Doirion’s soft and airy vocal melodies and when they sing about that relationship’s conclusion with “I played this song for you and all you heard were the words/“Discomfort and uncertainty”/You asked “How do we get back to how it was?”/And that’s when I started to know/That I might be in it alone”, It’s absolutely shattering. Lost Wisdom, PT. 2 doesn’t stray from the sparse beauty of guitar and the duo’s ethereal vocals and there’s nothing about it that suggests it would be any more powerful with more production. The wonderful round vocal interplay featured on “Enduring The Waves” add an appropriate amount of hookiness to the existential dread on display. “Widows” is a rumination on life after the death of a partner when you are left alone as a single parent. The lines “I haven’t bathed in a while/And no one’s near me”, punctuated by blasts of a live band show a shocking and immediate realization of what it must be like in Elverum’s head most days.
Lost Wisdom, PT. 2 is another heartbreaking collection of songs from Mount Eerie. From the moment the album begins to it’s delicate final notes, it firmly places the listener into Elverum’s headspace and transports you through his and Doiron’s beautiful words of fragility and pain. It’s not an album that you will want to delve in over and over again but it’s a great example of artistry capturing a personal and profoundly human experience that is infinitely relatable no matter your own personal situation.
review by Adam Fink
Sat Nov. 30 – Vancouver BC @ Christ Church Cathedral
Sun. Dec. 1 – Victoria, BC @ Alix Goolden Hall
Tue. Dec.3 – Seattle, WA @ The Neptune
Wed. Dec. 4 – Portland, OR @ Revolution Hall
Fri. Dec. 6 – Sonoma, CA @ Sebastiani Theatre
Sat. Dec. 7 – Los Angeles, CA @ Masonic Temple at Hollywood Forever
Sat. Dec. 7 – – Los Angeles, CA @ Masonic Temple at Hollywood Forever
Sun. Dec. 8 – Minneapolis, MN @ Cedar Cultural Center
Mon. Dec. 9 – Chicago, IL @ Thalia Hall
Tue. Dec. 10 – Columbus, OH @ Via Vecchia
Wed. Dec. 11 – Toronto, ON @ Great Hall
Thu. Dec. 12 – Montreal, QC @ Red Roof
Fri. Dec. 13 – Boston, MA @ Arts at the Armory
Sat. Dec. 14 – Brooklyn, NY @ St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church
Sun. Dec. 15 – Philadelphia, PA @ First Unitarian Sanctuary
Mon. Dec. 16 – Washington, DC @ Miracle Theatre