REVIEW: Big Thief – Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You

If the music of Big Thief was a physical place, it would be a campfire nestled in a mossy forest, friends cozying up around the flame and reminiscing on bittersweet memories. Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You, the American band’s fifth studio album, is the same campfire at dawn while the world sleeps, embers flickering, the sky brightening over a peaceful horizon. After conjuring this mental image, I came to realize that the cover itself is a sketchy drawing of animals around a campfire— a pure reflection of the album’s commitment to simple and authentic emotion. As the nature imagery suggests, the sonic world of the indie-folk act is anything but industrial. Even their more experimental songs are rooted in traditional folk, avoiding the mass-produced synthetic sound of modern pop. This genuine touch is what brings Big Thief’s masterful work to life.

DNWMIBIY feels more in touch with the band’s true voice than Big Thief’s 2016 album Masterpiece. The folky guitar evokes images of my youth, of rainy-day hikes in little red rain boots and curiously watching bugs move across the ground. Big Thief explores themes of adolescence, particularly the growing pains of becoming older and finding yourself face-to-face with an emotional reality no longer shrouded by naivety. Adrianne Lenker— who released successful solo music that leans toward a more delicate feminine sound— pours her heart into the vocals, her wavering voice expressing rawness that doesn’t have to be screamed to be felt. “Change” is a particularly resonant track and one of the most popular on the album; lyrically, “Change” has the same transcendent feeling as classic poetry. Like a gentle lullaby, Lenker sings:

“Change like the sky, like the leaves, like a butterfly, death, like a door to a place we’ve never been before”.

The album dives fearlessly into experiments as the album progresses, with spunky lyrics and textured sounds that stray from the calm earthy feel but still stick to the sense of adolescence. Adrianne Lenker’s songwriting is similar to a child’s wild and carelessly joyous thought process. It feels loose, freeing, and successfully exploratory. “Spud Infinity” carries on nature imagery to shout a gleefully unified message:

“One peculiar organism aren’t we all together?
Everybody steps on ants
Everybody eats the plants
Everybody knows to dance, even with just one finger”

Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You is an honest tale of unbridled feeling. Adrianne Lenker’s gentle voice echoes unconditional hope, admiration, and longing; it’s a love letter to the natural wonders of human existence and human expression, packaged in a homey atmosphere. If you’re an outdoorsy person, a folk-music-listener, an indie-music-enjoyer, or simply someone who wants to dig under the chaos of daily life to reconnect with your natural emotions, give this album a listen. Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You by Big Thief is available now on Spotify, Apple Music, or another music streaming platform of your choice.

avameester

Ava is a current freshman majoring in Art and Design at Stamps. Her love for the arts extends to jewelry making, weird films, and just about anything else that feeds the brain's hunger for creativity.

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