“Everybody is their own galaxy, their own separate entity. There is a feeling of needing to be saved, and that’s a lot to ask of people.” So says Santa Monica-based solo musician Natalie Mering, the self-described Joan of Arc behind Weyes Blood. She admits to having had this romantic notion brainwashed into her most of all by James Cameron’s Titanic, and it shows in her fourth studio album, Titanic Rising, out April 5th via Sup Pop Records. Like the ship itself, Titanic Rising is a hulking dream filled with classical pomp, though its loneliness feels more cosmic and expansive than stuck at the bottom of the sea.
Mering’s voice immediately jumps out for its bold contralto, deep and powerful yet coming in sighs—more like Mike Milosh of Rhye than, say, Cher. Her voice carries each song into melodic complexity, sometimes wavering though always feeling steeped in her own thoughts. Weyes Blood being Mering’s solo project, she overlays her own vocals sometimes in a duet-style, such as in the (oddly hymnal) “Movies”, or in washes of backing vocal sections like in “Mirror Forever”. The sonics across each of the 10 tracks is diverse—spacey mellotrons beneath slide guitars in the David Bowie-meets- Father John Misty “Andromeda”, the punchy, uptempo piano chords and claps in “Everyday”, and the cinematic string-section swells in opener “A Lots Gonna Change”. There’s baroque classical, there’s Fleetwood Mac-esque levity, there’s country influences, and there’s cosmic waves of production in the vein of Pet Sounds on “Something to Believe”.
Mering writes about the calling power of love through ‘sincere looks’ and inner voices, always looking for something greater to show itself, which is where the album’s nebulousness comes from. She’s harking the return of a more traditional, ‘true’ love that pairs well with her sound, nostalgic of the 70s without imitating it. It’s not all romance. The straight-faced delivery of “Movies”, a song about a young girl’s love for cinema, comes off as cheesy and, frankly, strange, but it adds to the thousand-yard stare in Weyes Blood’s character. She sings of the turning wheel of time, of assurance, of isolation as a time of contemplation.
Though it loses a little sonic steam in its latter half, Titanic Rising is front-loaded by some simply amazing tracks. Solo act Weyes Blood brings grandeur to a lonely stage production, ethereal at times while shockingly concrete at others, thanks to its intoxicating blend of cosmology and cinema. Standout tracks were “Something to Believe”, “Everyday”, and “A Lots Gonna Change”.