Alison May writes electric folks songs that are often far more devastating than their warm disposition suggests. “On Going” is backed by shakers and fingerpicked acoustic guitars, and starts with, “Yes, I’m aware that my home is burning/ But, I will rearrange the sofas anyway/ To appear as though I’ve had company,” the last word sung with a lilt like Joanna Newsom. “Helen” is about a miscarriage: “Helen died, hours before she was to be breathing/ All her things placed inside a storage unit/ Everyone had so been looking forward/ To a moment they would try not to remember,” May sings, before the ringing of electric guitars kick in.
In tracks like “Ophelia” and “10 x 2,” when her sadness isn’t hidden in its contradictory surroundings, May is reminiscent of Julie Doiron or Angel Olsen — in the latter song she uses reverbed guitars as she sings, “I’ve made a habit of/ Holding on to those I find myself the least able to love.” Her breathy voice often dips and slurs like Jolie Holland; that and the richly layered instrumentation are gorgeous, thankfully without taking the edge off the sting of her lyrics.
Love / Dark is out July 29 via Misery Loves Co., but you can stream it in full below.