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Almanac

4.4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Widowspeak is an American band comprised of Molly Hamilton and Robert Earl Thomas, known for its dreamy, western-tinged take on rock and roll. Their self-titled debut was praised for its reverential spaciousness, Hamilton's haunting voice, and Thomas's sinister Morricone-esque guitar lines. On their second album, Almanac, the duo explores denser arrangements and new sonic territory, from Saharan rhythms to Appalachian-inspired melodies, all delivered with stoic, wistful restraint.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 22, 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Captured Tracks
  • ASIN: B00A30L7CW
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #221,803 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jack Tripper VINE VOICE on January 22, 2013
Format: Audio CD
Widowspeak's self-titled debut was one of the most pleasant surprises in recent memory for me, filled with melodic, dreamy 3-minute jangle-pop songs, with Molly Hamilton's drugged-out-yet-angelic voice pulling the helpless listener in almost effortlessly. 'Almanac' expands that sound by adding fuller arrangements and more of a shoegaze-y guitar sound, which makes for an even more absorbing musical journey.

Whereas the first album drew many comparisons to Mazzy Star, 'Almanac' moves beyond those similarities for the most part, though Molly's voice still recalls Hope Sandoval's, of course. Widowspeak here seem to draw more from Fleetwood Mac, Americana, and 60's and 70's roots-rock than anything (with an album cover that somehow manages to look like all three), but with hazy atmospherics and bouncing rhythms creating a uniquely warm, tripped-out vibe that's entirely their own.

Opener "Perennials" is a perfect example, with intertwining melodies and a hypnotic, fluid rhythm resulting in a near trance-inducing listen. "The Dark Age" features Robert Earl Thomas's excellent lead guitar noodling over a fuzzed-out sheen and Michael Stasiak's propulsive drumming, and to great effect, with the airy lead vocals carrying the listener off into a euphoric state of bliss.

Some songs draw from pre-20th century musical history, such as 'Thick As Thieves,' which sounds almost like a sea shanty from the 1800s, while 'Minnewaska' has a strong Appalachian folk vibe. The languid beauty of Molly's vocals and the overall reverb-drenched sound breathes new life into these old musical tropes, making them seem totally fresh and intriguing.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
“Almanac” opens with simply one of the best songs I’ve ever heard- “Perennials”- Widowspeak at their best. Trippy instrumentation so expertly performed by Robert Earl Thomas and that unbelievably ethereal vocal by partner Molly Hamilton whose style is reminiscent of Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval and Miranda Lee Richardson who was once affiliated with The Brian Jonestown Massacre yet definitely remains her own singer. That song sets the bar so high in terms of melody, lyrics, content and atmosphere it would be a marvel if the entire album was that good. For me, not quite that consistent but it’s still a damn fine record for the most part, largely due to the musical chemistry between Molly and Robert, it works.

Favorites include “Thick as Thieves”, a dark ballad; “Ballad of the Golden Hour” with some beautiful guitar work laced through it; the sexy rock stomp of “Devil Knows”- Molly’s inflections are so on point. “Locusts” is another highlight with an unusual sound and imaginative arranging that are captivating. The echoing guitars are a nice touch on “Spirit is Willing” which leads to the other essential song on “Almanac”- the majestic, sweeping “Storm King” which ends the album promisingly. With this second album, Widowspeak have proven that they’re here to stay.
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Format: Vinyl Verified Purchase
Fantastic album. I saw them in Chicago, they're great live too. Vinyl came with a digital download code that didn't work, I shot their bandcamp email a note and Molly got back to me within SECONDS. These two are great all around, pick this up!
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Format: Audio CD
Dear Music Appreciators,

Kind of a hipster hippie vibe on this one - very cool band name, leaves, rocks, waterfall, clothing, hair, shoes, body language, - based on the album art, I felt like I had to know what the music would sound like.

And at first I wasn't that into the music. But as is often the case, I probably wasn't paying very close attention at first and probably wasn't in the most appealing first listen environment. Most albums sound best on headphones for the first listen. Best to get up close and personal with the music, and then open it up to wider and noisier environments like an old used car, where, since you're already a little familiar, you can still recognize the music's qualities even if you can't hear them as well.

The music started to grow on me. I started to find much of the guitar work to be catchy and memorable, having sort of a dark and weighty quality to it, and sometimes almost a kind of spacey, cinematic, western feeling. The lyrics took a little longer, and I'm still trying to figure them out, but Molly Hamilton's singing style is reminiscent of other high and dreamy stylists like Isobel Campbell. In fact, listeners who are fond of Isobel Campbell's collaborations with Mark Lanegan may find a lot to like here, with the dark, moody Lanegan vocals replaced by Robert Earl Thomas's dark, moody guitar presence.

I especially admired the song "Ballad of the Golden Hour" for its urgency, its lovely and varied guitar work, and its clarity - Hamilton comes out from behind her shy, dreamy style more than anywhere else on the album and it's clear that as a vocalist, when she works more directly with the distinctive and attractive music of Widowspeak, rather than floating dreamily around it, this band easily shifts gears from good to great.

Sincerely,

Constant Listener
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