Adrianne Lenker (of Big Thief) Luke Temple at The Sinclair
Adrianne Lenker has been writing songs since she was 10 years old. Her "back story" has been well documented in various interviews and profiles for Big Thief over the last 3 years. Despite, or more likely because of the constant touring and studio work, the last few years have been some of the most prolific for Lenker as a writer. Songs pop out at soundcheck. They pop out on late night drives between cities. They pop out in green rooms, hotel stairwells, gardens, and kitchens around the world.
In the hands of Lenker songwriting is not an old dead craft. It is alive. It is vital. With little regard for standard album cycle practice or the idea of resting at all, Lenker set out to make a document. Songs can be slippery and following 2+ years on the road with Big Thief, Lenker felt a growing need to document this particular time in her life in an intimate, immediate way. The result is her new album, abysskiss, out October 5th via Saddle Creek.
"I want to archive the songs in their original forms every few years," explains Lenker. "My first solo record I made was Hours Were the Birds. I had just turned 21 and moved to New York City where I was sleeping in a warehouse, working in a restaurant and photographing pigeons. Now five years later, another skin is being shed."
Following a two-week road trip through the southwestern United States, Lenker headed into the studio with longtime friend Luke Temple. Temple put on his loosely fitting, bright orange, 100% wool producer hat and for one week they made music. The songs chosen for this collection were the songs that felt the most alive in the room. These are not castaways or B-sides. Some of these songs have been alive for years while some were written just days before the session. Some will appear in different future forms, some will not. The thread that connects these songs is not something that can easily be put down in words. Intuition connects these songs. They are a record of a time.
With this collection, Lenker further illuminates to the listening public what those close to her already know; here we have a songwriter of the highest order, following her voice and the greater Voices that pass through her with an unflinching openness and clarity of translation.
The trails that Brooklyn’s Big Thief—Adrianne Lenker (guitar, vocals), Buck Meek (guitar), Max Oleartchik (bass), and James Krivchenia (drums)—take us down on Capacity, the band’s highly anticipated second record, are overgrown with the wilderness of pumping souls.
After last year’s stunning Masterpiece, Capacity was recorded in a snowy winter nest in upstate New York at Outlier Studio with producer Andrew Sarlo. The album jumps right into lives marked up and nipped in surprisingly swift fashion. They are peopled and unpeopled, spooked and soothed, regenerating back into a state where they can once again be vulnerable. Lenker’s songs introduce us to a gallery of multifacted women and deal with the complicated matters of identity — at once dangerous and curious, though never unbelievable. Lenker shows us the gentle side of being ripped open. Tricked into love, done in and then witnessing the second act of pulling oneself back together to prepare for it to all happen again, but this time to a sturdier soul, one who is going to take the punches better than ever before and deal some jabs and roundhouses of their own.
The album is thick with raw, un-doctored beauty: most of the songs on Capacity were played for the first time in the studio and were recorded the same day. “There is a darker darkness and a lighter light on this album,” Lenker explains. “The songs search for a deeper level of self-acceptance, to embrace the world within and without. I think Masterpiece began that process, as a reaction from inside the pain, whereas I feel Capacity examines the pain from the outside.”