Los Angeles singer-songwriter Linda Perhacs’s debut LP Parallelograms languished in obscurity for decades before being embraced by a new audience around the time of the “freak-folk” mini-craze of the mid ’00s. Modern acolytes including Devendra Banhart, Ramona Gonzalez (aka Nite Jewel) and Julia Holter helped Perhacs reintegrate into musical life, and collaborate on her first offering in 44 years, The Soul of All Natural Things.
On the album, Holter and Gonzalez’s voices blend with Perhacs’s own in intricate mini-choral arrangements. These are sublimated, with the help of cavernous reverb, into a churning bedding of fingerpicked acoustic guitar, subtle string swells, synth pads and amplified room and fret noise. In this way, The Soul of All Natural Things is divorced from the tradition of barebones acoustic folk-pop that Parallelograms represents. The new album is intensely collaborative; the producers and the performers are focused on developing fantastical textures that resonate with, and even directly evoke, Perhacs’s imagery.
Perhacs also positions herself among the collective in her lyrics, which largely paint the shared experiences of humanity (her “river of souls”) in broad strokes. Her misty musings can be distracting instead of disarming when they stick out too much from the overall texture, but the impulses toward New Age result in some of the album’s most beautiful moments. The stunning “When Things Are True Again,” full of vocal counterpoint that recalls Judee Sill’s Bach fugue approximations, and “Song of the Planets,” which sounds a bit like a Jon and Vangelis song sung, prove that Enya-ness can be a virtue.