Adrienne Lenker has been a creative force virtually all her life, picking up a guitar to write her first songs as a child, and not looking back since. Readers may know her better as the lead singer of New York indie outfit Big Thief, who have released a clutch of well-received albums over the last few years. When she’s not with the band, Lenker is putting out some interesting solo efforts too, the latest being Forwards Beckon Rebound. Taken from her recent album Songs, it’s a captivating, progressive piece, which pushes the envelope of what can be considered indie, folk or acoustic music.
On the first listen, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a cloud rap instrumental. Lenker’s layered guitar parts mesh together by repeating short, dizzying melodies. It forms an almost atonal sound, one that is brought into context when her voice cuts through the mix. Lenker’s singing is beautifully melancholic, the only thing in sharp focus on Forwards, Beckon Rewind. Her voice is gently sorrowful, one that has been carved and crafted over many years to what it is now – a powerfully emotive instrument.
Lenker’s words are delivered in snippets, some lines seemingly at random, but there is a theme of moving on to new things – she assures her audience that “I’m not afraid of you now” and “I have nothing to pray to you now” as she sheds herself of someone – Or something – That is best left in the past. Couple these statements with evocative poetic imagery like “Show me pictures that hang in your house/Pictures that hang in your mouth” and you have quite a package of lyrical depth. It’s a small but exciting glimpse into her world.
This song is best consumed as an audio-visual experience with the accompanying video. Lenker reacts to the music through free form dance, as the sun sets across the Mojave desert. These images bring new feelings to the fore, this time of freedom, youth and and enjoying life. It serves to visually reflect the conflicted moods of the music. Forwards Beckon Rebound presents itself as a fuzzed-out daydream, a song entirely in Lenker’s headspace as she wrestles with her thoughts. All we can do is listen and watch.