Mount Eerie

A Crow Looked at Me

P.W. Elverum & Sun

Mar 24, 2017 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


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A Crow Looked at Me is an unflinching look at life going on after the loss of someone dear, as much about love as it is about death. Not long after the birth of their first child, the wife of Mount Eerie's Phil Elverum, musician/visual artist Geneviève Castrée, was diagnosed with cancer in 2015 and died a year later. With his new album, Elverum managed to put this experience into words to be sung, and the results offer intensely moving chapters of his coping and survival.

"Death is real," sings Elverum on "Real Death," "Someone's there and then they're not/And it's not for singing about/It's not for making into art." His struggle to create in the wake of this tragedy is clear, and he's often almost painfully plainspoken. "When real death enters the house, all poetry is dumb."

"Our daughter is one and a half/You have been dead eleven days," begins "Seaweed," in which Elverum muses over a once-planned future now being reassembled. In "Forest Fire," it seems that nothing has the power to distract. "In the smell and roar of the asphalt truck that was idling just out the window, tearing up our street/I missed you/Of course."

While generally somber, the subdued music (mostly gently strummed electric guitar and piano) is warm, feeling somewhat hopeful, with just enough light percussion to lead things along like a hand tugging tenderly. "We are all always so close to not existing at all," Elverum considers in "Swims," "Except in the confusion of our survived-bys grasping at the echoes."

During one of the album's most heart-wrenching moments, Elverum declares, in "My Chasm," "The loss in my life is a chasm I take into town/And I don't want to close it." And then, almost shouting: "Look at me/Death is real." As cathartic as the creation of A Crow Looked at Me might have been for this artist, we're obviously meeting him early in the soul-testing climb of this story's arc. (www.pwelverumandsun.com)

Author rating: 8/10

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