Adrianne Lenker is a singer/songwriter from Plymouth, Minnesota. She is best known as the lead vocalist of Brooklyn-born quartet Big Thief.
After Big Thief’s European tour was cut short in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Lenker found herself back in America in a one-bedroom cabin healing from a relationship that had just ended. Using her wounds as inspiration it soon became apparent that material was spilling out of her, she enlisted help from engineer Phillip Weinrobe to capture the raw and emotional sound of these songs.
Within the album notes of songs, Lenker concedes that “by the time Phil arrived I was on a whole new level of heartsick and the songs were flying through my ears”. The final product of these sessions is a dual-album release, the first half of it being songs an eleven-track LP and the second half being instrumentals a two-song LP which focuses on a collage of acoustic guitar improvisations the pair conceived at the beginning and end of each day they recorded.
This record is laced with heartbreaking sentiments and references to a lost lover, but the beauty of this album lies in the fact that somewhere between her break-up and the birth of this album she managed to learn how to cope and deal with her inner turmoil – it is a remedy for her heartbreak. The cathartic environment she found herself in whilst recording songs (a cabin in the mountains of western Massachusetts) is viewed by Adrianne as the primary reason for her emotional recovery. Capturing this experience was best thought to be delivered via a purely analog medium, achieving a release without any digital process was seen as the only way to maintain the intricacy and beauty of each song.
Adrianne’s dual album release in 2020 forms part of her 8 albums deep discography, which as of last year now boasts a Grammy nomination – she is just 29 years old. At this point she is that prolific there are said to be three certainties in life; death, taxes, and an Adrianne Lenker release every year.
On the 23rd October 2020, on 4AD, songs was released to critical acclaim, receiving a 5/5 from TImes Magazine, a 5/5 from The Independent, a 4/5 from NME, and an 8.8 rating by Pitchfork, which also named it best new music.