reviewed by Kaitlin Ruether
Lindsey Walker is not afraid to open herself to the darkness of the world and dig through it for beauty. This was the driving theme behind the creation of her second studio album, this desolate bliss., and what she urges a listener to experience with her. The Edmonton-based artist will call you out and pull you into her music, so steady yourself for a dive into emotion.
Part of what makes this desolate bliss. such an effective experience is the resilience that bleeds from the music, notably on the hymn-like “Here I Am” and the rock-edge of “Heart Is Strong”, in which a bluesy bass line dances around lyrics like “I don’t want to hold myself up to you / my arms are weak but my heart is strong”. Every question feels like it comes right at you, every moment of gentleness seems a balm.
An artist of the prairies who admits she leaves “half her heart in Alberta” when she tours the country, Walker brings in lingering country and folk influences in the way she allows emotions to simmer and burst (“Shadows” is a strong example) and holds onto narrative, as on “Window”. “St. Petersburg” brings all this resilience together with story, weaving a complexly emotional tale of a murder — or a dream — and giving the sense of wide open space, cold nights, and absolute turmoil.
When Walker’s voice lulls into warmth to declare travels and escape on “Falling Tree”, we see a sweetness that is paired perfectly with the reclaimed darkness of “In Your Light”: in what becomes the album’s trademark of mingling emotion with contrasting tone, it is the soft song that navigates a broken heart, and the heavier track that explores falling in love.
So much about the world is stormy, and dark, and hard to carry with us, but Lindsey Walker uses art as way to take it on, to hold a sense of strength and power. For that, this desolate bliss. is a necessary and fearless plunge into what can be a beautiful depth.
Top Track: “St. Petersburg”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)