Larkin Grimm - "The Last Tree"
(Secret Eye 2006, AB-OC-29)
From Aural Innovations #35 (January 2007)
It was time for me to once again enter the strange, beautiful, and occasionally frightening musical world of Larkin Grimm. Her debut album, Harpoon, resonated with a deep and ancient feel, an understanding of both ecstasy and suffering that belied the musician's youthful age. The Last Tree takes us back once again into Larkin Grimm's organic, acoustic world of mystery, wonder, and even brutality.
Employing a wide range of instruments including dulcimer, acoustic guitar, flute, chimes, drums, and bells, with guests adding such sounds as organ, fiddle, banjo, and tabla, Larkin weaves a sparse, loosely knit tapestry of music, as unconventional as it is compelling, though as spare as the arrangements can be at times, there's still a lot there between the notes. The music drifts and meanders like a lost river, and you find yourself floating in it, listening to the thoroughly unique, often cleverly multi-tracked voice of Ms. Grimm, as she sings of ancient forests and waterfalls, demon lovers, and sometimes the shocking violence of nature, both human and otherwise. She searches for meaning amidst the cosmic greenery and flowing waters of this world and the next and contemplates the frightening end of nature while nonetheless dreaming of moments of splendour and delight, caught like shimmering fragments of sunshine dancing in gauzy curtains.
Her music often reminded me of the more meditative and innovative works of Joni Mitchell, especially while listening to the willowy 10-minute epic, Little Weeper, but Larkin Grimm definitely has her own voice and her own ideas, forging new directions for folk music rather than looking back. From the sorrowful mourning of the title track, to the child-like innocence of The Sun Comes Up (with lyrics written by 7 year old Sadie Underhill) to the wailing sex and death cry of The Most Excruciating Vibe, The Last Tree covers a lot of ground. Add to it all Antonia Dixon's breathtakingly lush and mysterious cover art, and this album come through as a wonderful feast for the ears, eyes and soul.
For more information you can visit the Larkin Grimm web site at: http://www.larkingrimm.com.
Visit the Secret Eye web site at: http://www.secreteye.org.
Email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald