Heather Woods Broderick is a dream-folk multi-instrumentalist from Portland, Oregon. She released one solo record in 2009 and has a new one —Glider— coming out on July 10 via Western Vinyl. She and her brother Peter are members of the Efterklang touring band, but most people know Heather Woods Broderick as Sharon Van Etten’s backing vocalist and touring band member.
Even before I heard any of the songs, I had high expectations for this album. I haven’t heard the full album yet, but the three songs I have heard are enough for me to know that it’ll meet or exceed expectations. Some advance reviews are mentioning Julee Cruise as a reference point. Comparisons have also been made to Liz Harris from Grouper and also to Liz Fraser from Cocteau Twins. I can’t really argue with either of those. I couldn’t help but be reminded of that marvelous album Everything I Touch Runs Wild by Lori Carson (1997). Dreamy and placid, but not sleep-inducing.
As an aside, that Lori Carson record is really good, but it was almost immediately forgotten by the music press in a huge pile of really amazing records. It was a great year for new releases, and many have survived the test of time. Ok Computer, Homogenic, Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating in Space, Brighten the Corners, Dig Me Out, The Colour and The Shape, Either/Or, Dots and Loops, Young Team, Be Here Now, F# A# ∞, A New Stereophonic Sound Spectacular, I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One. Those are just the ones that I still listen to regularly. This isn’t about 1997, though.
Like I said, these songs are really peaceful and pretty amazing. I can’t wait to hear the rest of the album when it comes out. If the rest of it is as good as what I’ve heard, Glider might find a place in my year-end top five. For the record, I already have three albums penciled into my year-end top five and more than 70 in my year-end top 50, so it’s a very crowded field. And we’re not even to the year’s half-way point yet.
For now, this is my favorite song from the album:
“Wyoming” by Heather Woods Broderick
I really love the gradual build. Layers on layers of sound and texture, taking the listener to a dizzying height. It very nearly reaches a destructive level, but just at the right moment, the song tops out and brings the listener safely back down. It’s quite a ride. And her vocals. Oh, her beautiful vocals. There’s some delay or some other effect which only add to their haunting charm.
Also, check out this beautiful video for the song, filmed on the Oregon coast. I’m sure there’s some meaning behind the fact that the first two-thirds of the video are in black/white and the last third in color.