Mariee Sioux - Grief in Exile - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Mariee Sioux - Grief in Exile

by Bill Golembeski Rating:9 Release Date:2019-06-07
Mariee Sioux - Grief in Exile
Mariee Sioux - Grief in Exile

This is lovely transcendent folk music that plants seeds in the soil of the soul.

The great Richard Thompson (who is no slouch when it comes to penning a decent folk tune) wrote: “If you really mean it, it all comes around again.” And so many of the greats from that 70’s folk scene really did Meet on the Ledge. Names like Ralph McTell, Tim Buckley, John Martyn, Joni Mitchell, Bridget St. John, Sandy Denny, and Nick Drake come to mind. And then there was Vashti Bunyan, the woman with simple songs of immense earthy beauty who recorded the folk classic Just Another Diamond Day. Well, this record by the very vital Mariee Sioux climbs onto the ledge of an inner psyche and sings even more simple songs of immense earthy beauty.

“Black Snakes” is the road map of the journey. A simple guitar strums while heavenly vocals plead for truth in the face of a headwind of too much busy stuff with too many stop signs and traffic lights. This is ephemeral music that clutches the dark sod of daily dreams that drift to the heavens. There is, in keeping with Ms Sioux’s heritage, an indigenous flavor to this music. However, the melodies are as sublime as those of Yorkshire’s Magna Carta on their Vertigo albums Seasons and Lord of the Ages.

The beauty continues. “Baby Wave” is melodic and urgent with a backing piano and violin, and it’s just an idea, but these simple songs, through some musical legerdemain, suddenly flow into complex melodies. “Goose Song” is mandolin friendly with yet another tender melody that frames a nice acoustic guitar solo. And “Never Known” touches a Medieval vibe with tremulous vocals, as “the pheasant feels the hunter near.” I suppose this passes the acid folk litmus test. Again, all the great stuff just “comes around again.”

Let’s face it: Richard Thompson is pretty much always right.

There’s also an echo of Kate Bush, in her early Kick Inside days. The before-mentioned “Goose Song” has that In Search of Peter Pan child-like melody. But the title tune “Grief in Exile” has a tricky and catchy melody with a low-flying helium chorus (that doesn’t quite reach the outer atmosphere of “Wuthering Heights,” thank you!). But this song does share a similar rollercoaster ride.

“Behind the Veil” has lovely strings and a velvet melody.

The cleverly titled “Snow Knows White” drills deeply into folk psych stuff. You know, there are so many sub-genres of music like yacht rock, post-rock, lo-fi, gothic folk, lounge indie, math rock, sort of kinda rock, and, of course, my favorite, whatever rock. So, let’s just call this no-selfie folk because, while it is the vogue to snap a selfie shot at a big-time arena concert, this is music of pin-dropping attention that melds into a collective consciousness, just like quiet audiences did when we “really meant it” and we were always “finding better words.”

Odd: this music is certainly transcendent. And that implies something beyond reality. But it also means cutting through the crappy fog. And, perhaps, this music is a much-needed compass in these times. You know, in Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, our hero Huck tries to “make a fool uv ole Jim,” the runaway slave; and then Jim, that runaway slave, says to our hero Huck, “En trash is what people is dat puts dirt on de head er dey fren’s en makes ’em ashamed.”

That’s a transcendent moment in a novel filled with con men, feuding families, self-righteous religious folk, racism, stupid people, and just plain mean humans!

So, this album is some sort of decent compass, just like Jim the runaway slave will always because it’s the right thing to do, follow the North Star of decency. And great albums will always pulse with Polaris.

The final songs couch a soft landing. “Coyote with the Flowering Heart” urges the spirit’s intercession into a world that dearly needs a new and much more sincere melody. “Love Like Water” is skeletal, and it’s acoustic quick. It’s urgent, beautiful, simple, and it is a melodic cry to love the universe of the very here and the very now. And then “My Birds” extends the beautiful flight.

This is a soft record. It’s a river stream record. It’s an indigenous record of dark dirt. It’s an “Old Changing Way” folk record. But, ultimately, it’s an album that loves the universe very much, with every seed it plants in the very rich soil of the very common soul that will always look into the sky in search of a North Star, a symbol for a simple revelation of an always patient truth.

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