Though Natalie Mering, who performs and records as Weyes Blood, chose to distort her project’s name (giving “Wise” an appropriately outré, olde feel) with a nod to the ocular (w’eyes), her entire output thus far has been an exercise in exploring the atemporal. She is a musician, a singer, after all, but the particular process of Weyes Blood’s development, and Mering’s experimentation with everything from early 2000s local-noise-scene strangeness to her present mastery of timeless balladry, highlight her as an meticulous sonic alchemist.
Active in underground music since 2006, Natalie Mering has collaborated with a slew of strange birds including Jackie-O Motherfucker and Ariel Pink. She’s released four records as Weyes Blood. The Innocents, Weyes Blood’s Mexican Summer debut, deepened and broadened the shimmering murkiness of her earlier album, The Outside Room (attributed to Weyes Blood and The Dark Juices), shaving away the fuzziness of that album’s lo-fi production and revealing a songwriting ability at once classic and singular.
Cardamom Times, the EP that followed, went further down the folky, lyrically evocative river that The Innocents travelled so deftly. The influence of classical and Early music can be felt throughout these two works, rivaling the ostensible folk music lineage within which one may like to situate Mering’s songs.
Weyes Blood’s new album, Front Row Seat To Earth, captivates immediately with its frank clarity in both sound and word. Though still retaining a deep influence of the classical often felt in her songs as a sense of ancient resonance, Mering is at her most intimate and vulnerable here, due in large part to her stunning vocals and simple, essential lyrical phrasing.
Produced by Mering with Chris Cohen (who also contributes his deft, subtle drums to many tracks), the album is warm and close with a pop sensibility that sends it soaring into the atmosphere. The closeness of this record – how personal, alone, and frank it feels – conceals its aspirations to the outside, to the “Earth” of its title.
Mering wants to lead us through the microcosm of the personal to the macrocosm of the transpersonal. Her witness harbors devastating weight (“… and now you can’t stay, please baby don’t go away”) while also universalizing the strange ways of identity and relationships. These are not typical love songs or protest songs — they are painful, poignant riddles that celebrate the ambiguity of love.
Weyes Blood affirms the conflict of harmonious life within a disharmonic world — she illuminates and mythologizes it, projecting it back over the whole of Earth. The inner ecology leads outward, bridging “us” with our obscure inheritance of nature.