Secret Meeting score: 78
by Joseph Purcell
On her fifth record, The Big Freeze, New York native Laura Stevenson has headed back to record at her childhood home, tossed aside the indie punk roots of the past, and produced a more delicate, intimate affair. It’s an album bustling with gorgeous shimmering folk tracks, orchestras, horns and strings, but its whimsical elegance ensures each track maintains its intimacy.
Opener Lay Back, Arms Out is a gorgeous traversing introduction to Stevenson’s new direction – with her enchanting vocal now placed centre stage. Value Inn is also hauntingly desolate – stripped back to its minimalist glory, it showcases Stevenson at her most fragile, while lead single, Living Room, NY, further exemplifies an artist at the peak of her craft.
The Big Freeze does allow for a fleeting glimpse to Stevenson’s previous work on the pop fuelled Dermatillomania where The Innocence Mission meets Belle & Sebastian on a thoroughly charming two and a half minutes. Rattle at Will is a hurricane of feedback and bleeding distortion, elegantly framed around Stevenson’s finest vocal performance to date, and provides another highpoint on an album that shows the metamorphosis of an artist who with each passing release gets better and better.