And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow finds Californian singer-songwriter Natalie Mering, better known as Weyes Blood, picking up where she left off on her transcendent 2019 record Titanic Rising. Billed as the second part of a trilogy, And In The Darkness… feels stylistically very similar to its predecessor; Mering has again enlisted Jonathan Rado as co-producer, and his maximalist, almost baroque approach mirrors the ambition of her philosophical songwriting. Where Titanic Rising contemplated future disaster, this album was written in the midst of actual tumult, a time of climate, health and civil rights crises. Mering’s take is characteristically shrewd without ever being didactic. On ‘Children Of The Empire’ she seems to contemplate white guilt and the inaction it often results in: “We don’t have time to be afraid anymore,” she sings mournfully. The deceptively upbeat ‘The Worst Is Done’ perfectly captures the uneasy feeling of having to return to so-called normality after a situation which was anything but. “They say the worst is done, but I think the worst has yet to come,” she croons over a Carpenters-esque melody.
As with life, it’s not all political: ‘Hearts Aglow’ and ‘Twin Flame’ are among Mering’s best love songs, but even they can’t escape the sense of impending doom: “It’s been a death march, the whole world is crumbling / Oh baby let’s dance in the sand”. Her immense voice has a timeless quality reminiscent of Carole King or Joni Mitchell, and she is not afraid of borrowing from her idols – Scott Walker, Kate Bush, Harry Nilsson and John Cale all have their fingerprints on this record. What’s most impressive about Weyes Blood is the way she uses these references to create something that feels utterly contemporary and original.
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