Furling by Meg BairdRelease date: January 27, 2023
Label: Drag City Records
This is Meg Baird’s first solo record since 2015’s Don’t Weigh Down the Light. Meg is based in San Francisco and is a founding member of Heron Oblivion, where she contributes vocals and percussion. She is also a guitarist and vocalist in Philadelphia folk rock group Espers. She collaborates with many other musicians, most notably harpist Mary Lattimore. For this release, Meg worked closely with Charlie Saufley, her longtime collaborator, partner, and Heron Oblivion bandmate. Furling was mostly recorded at Louder Studios by Tim Green. Additional piano and vocals were captured at Panoramic Studios in CA with Jason Quever and mastered in Brooklyn by Heba Kadry.
The serene but haunting ‘Star Hill Song’ is the first single. Lovely and fluid, it reminds in spots of some of Sandy Denny’s extended folk tunes. I am not sure what the instrument is in the backdrop, but it could be a mandolin and suits this piece to perfection. The other single is ‘Will You Follow Me Home?’ and its ornamental edges frame the song. It is delicate, skeined with Meg’s silvery vocals and a thrumming instrumental tapestry. ‘Ashes, Ashes’ is the funereal opener, with a slow drumbeat moving you through as if marching to a grave site. The piano work is prominent in the mix, as are the high keening vocal lines. ‘Ship Captains’ is pensive and lovely, and I like how the piano notes trickle through like rain drops.
‘Cross Bay’ filters in some Fairport stylings, and that is never a bad thing. I also like how the guitar circles around the vocals. This is followed by the long form ‘Twelve Saints’, the sprightly ‘Unnamed Drives’, and the pretty ‘The Saddest Verses’, my favourite song in this excellent set. ‘Wreathing Days’ is the final piece, with slightly unsettling piano offset by Meg’s softly rendered vocals.
This album is a sleeper and demands to be listened to on a good set of headphones. Hearing it in passing on a tinny auto speaker will not cut it. It is music that unfurls over time and reveals itself in layers. A really good addition to Meg Baird’s body of work. Highly recommended!