Meg Baird’s music is compellingly subtle, like an eerie breeze rustling into the room. After a ton of collaborative work (recent years have involved the likes of Will Oldham, Sharon Van Etten, and her own bands Esper and Heron Oblivion), Don’t Weigh Down The Light finds her hauntingly alone once more. On Wichita.
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Meg Baird makes folk straight from the fair port, the kind in which guitar meanders but doesn’t create plot twists, swirling forever around cyclical picking and modestly enveloping melodies. Her songs insist on nothing, and there’s no criticism encoded in that description: ‘Don’t Weigh Down the Light’ is calm, contented and assuredly fragile. It sounds like Alasdair Roberts nodding off to a Lotte Kestner tune.
In the foreground, ‘Don’t Weigh Down the Light’ concentrates on sparsity, but Baird is a dynamic artist. She may be pulled towards the ambiance folk music can create, but on “Mosquito Hawks” she starts to envelop a sense of rhythm and forward motion, her fluid guitar playing upended by a subliminal drumbeat. “Back To You” rolls around supreme licks of electric guitar reminiscent of Dire Straits, which sound euphoric but also weightless against her quiet, sustained picking. “Past Houses” sees her utilise piano to break up the uneasy tensions created by the record’s minimalism, while her sound gets drastically countrified on the wonderful “Good Directions”, a jaunty, gleefully twanging number that brings early Al Stewart to mind with its full-bodied acoustic strums.
Fotheringay were good, damnit, and it’s high time you realised as much; Meg Baird has, and her music sounds all the better for it. Her ‘70s folk influences make for a sound that’s passive but intriguing, and her storytelling is about what’s implied, not what’s explained. Listen and listen well.
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