Los Angeles based harpist Mary Lattimore returns with her seventh album of delicately plucked emotions and sonically vibrant patterns and movements. Lattimore is one of indie musics quiet powerhouses, having previously worked with the likes of Kurt Vile, Thurston Moore and Steve Gunn. Now on Silver Ladders she’s returned Slowdive’s Neal Halstead at the helms of production, with his signature cascading guitar sounds only amplifying the dreamy and emotive sonic landscapes Lattimore has become known.
One of Lattimore’s greatest talents is being able to tell a story without using words. Rather allowing the movements in her music to speak for themselves. She paints images in your head of scenes and emotions within them, constantly shifting and changing as the plucks of her harp move in varying directions. The 10 minute atmospheric “Til A Mermaid Drags You Under” transitions from folky swaying plucks, as if you’re out on the moving sea. To tense, impending drone sounds as if a terror is creeping up open you, and finally to a feeling of elation and peace. As her delay filled harps wash over you and the bouncing guitars fly through the air you can feel the acceptance that Lattimore is trying to convey in her sound. Closing track “Thirty Tulips” shifts from a sense of longing and loss of hope through the spluttered plucks and climbing drone to one of rejoice and accomplishment. Capturing the emotion of payoff, the hard work that was put in, feeling like you’ll never get anywhere to eventually full out elation.
Lattimore also succeeds in expanding her sonic palette further with this album. The impressiveness of her playing has always come from the level of detail and complexity she’s able to craft into various moments, with each song sounding familiar yet unique in groove or melody. But on this album she allows her playing to often become a building block for other sounds to enter. With elements of shoegaze, especially with “Sometimes He’s In My Dreams”. The influence of Halstead can be felt in full force through its dancing guitar lines. If you were to claim it as an unreleased Slowdive instrumental, it may fool many fans. There’s also an expanse into more ambient sounds, especially on “”. Where the soft drones and bright synthesiers remind of some of Brian Eno’s early work, think Ambient 1: Music For Airports era. But Lattimore isn’t afraid to change these sounds from soft and comforting to dark and boding on “” where the drones become heavily distorted, sweeping back and forth sounding almost as if the wind is crashing overhead. Which is one of Lattimore’s best talents, recreating the sounds of nature and the world through rich instrumentation.
The greatest aspect of this album is its frequency in letting sounds breath, creating space between movements. This allows the impact of Lattimore’s harp plucks to linger on, each melody floating around in your head before it carries you on further. It’s a perfect backdrop for a peaceful isolation evening, or a late night walk through a lamplight lit street.