Secret Meeting score: 84
by Dave Bertram
For almost a decade, Natalie Mering has been writing and releasing music under the guise of Weyes Blood (derived from her 15-year-old moniker Wise Blood) – drawing on the texture and depth of the Laurel Canyon singer-songwriter scene of the 1970s and directing it through her own oblique lens. Her 2016 breakthrough record, Front Row Seat To Earth, came with heavy critical acclaim and brought together a lifetime of influence and feeling into something grander and more confident.
Three years on and she’s topped it. Co-produced with Foxygen multi-instrumentalist, Jonathan Rado (Father John Misty, Whitney, The Lemon Twigs), Titanic Rising exudes her expressive, controlled alto and penchant for extravagant, classical arrangements. Behind her soothing melodies and uplifting choruses lurk lyrics loaded with scepticism on macro issues, from the modern relationship to the future of the human race, all overlayed atop the religious references which can be found across her back catalogue.
On opener A Lot’s Gonna Change, the influence of Rado is clear as day – carrying with it all the instrumental swagger of Father John Misty, as layers of swelled organs give way to gentle piano before she advises the lovelorn – ‘A lots gonna change in your lifetime, leave it all behind.’ Andromeda sees her head in Abba shaped clouds where she’s consumed by the celestial, strumming with greater purpose while delivering gazing lines about ‘lifting heart from the depths’ while ‘looking up to the sky for something I may never find.’
Something to Believe delivers another huge choral arrangement, while tackling the issue of her loss of faith, and Mirror Forever nods to Kate Bush, with its icy synths, snapped fingers and singalong melody. ‘True love is making a comeback’, she sings fervently on Everyday, which has more of bounce and upbeat feel to it.
Mering’s writing style is very much based around improvisation and this comes through in waves throughout the record, resulting in each track feeling more of a journey as opposed to a monotonous cycle – and the confidence in her own craft means she’s comfortable in leaving a chorus out. She’s pastoral and explores a number of heavy themes, but the record’s bouyancy ensures it never succumbs to despair – the result is something wonderful.