Big Thief: Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You – Charming and disarming

An expansive, restless road trip around Adrianne Lenker’s songwriting DNA

Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You
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Artist: Big Thief
Genre: Rock
Label: 4AD

This 20-song album from Adrianne Lenker, Max Oleartchik, Buck Meek and James Krivchenia originally stemmed from an idea Krivchenia had in 2019 – how to distil the many layers of Lenker’s songwriting into one record?

The result is, perhaps unsurprisingly, an expansive, restless ride around Big Thief’s DNA. The presence of Lenker’s dog at recording sessions helped to provide a playful atmosphere, something the record’s title itself evokes. Forty-five songs were whittled down to 20, and what remains is a document of loose creativity.

There is a real warmth at work: Spud Infinity, Red Moon, and Blue Lightning are country-inflected gems, Sparrow is all parched beauty, and Wake Me Up to Drive is a droning ode to road-tripping.

In a way, much of the record is marked by a sense of the open road. Sometimes it meanders, as on Time Escaping and Promise is a Pendulum, but more often than not it lives in clarity. Change, a song Lenker has said is like her seven-year-old self meeting her older self along the way, is a poetic dance of a composition, and that “dance” winds its way to a sense of euphoria on Little Things, and wispiness on Heavy Bend. Simulation Swarm is a standout – immersive and rich, it is disarmingly charming, as much of this record is.

Siobhán Kane

Siobhán Kane is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in culture