Just released yesterday, Will Stratton's newest album "The Changing Wilderness" is the first cohesively excellent album for me from this year so far. It's pensive, somewhat melancholy, stripped down - but beautiful in a way that makes it hard to forget. Although Stratton describes himself as a "disciple of Nick Drake," I found that his seventh album called to mind the very best of Iron & Wine.
"The Changing Wilderness" may have had its debut in May, but it sounds like it might be better suited for the cooler air of autumn than the hopefulness of spring. Stratton is a singer-songwriter who, in the past, has thrived more off introspection than attempting to commune with the macro world outside himself. In "The Changing Wilderness," he set out to deviate from that pattern. No where in the stark 40 minutes the album lasts is this more apparent than "Infertile Air," which imagines the guilty conscious of an ICE agent.
But introspection still finds a way to creep in from song to song - after all, isn't the world outside ourselves some reflection of the world inside ourselves? A personal favorite off the album for me was "When I've Been Born (I'll Love You)" - a song which anyone who has loved can see themselves in. But even in that gem, the world we live in drops by for a quick visit. "If the fascists win, I'll love you," he sings here. Stratton reflected on his songwriting process for "The Changing Wilderness," "Over the past four years as the world around us got progressively more screwed up, it became impossible for me to write something that wasn't somewhat introspective."
My only real critique of "The Changing Wilderness" is it's an all too ephemeral experience - each song bleeds seamlessly into the next, and when it stops it feels a bit too abrupt. But it's an absolutely gorgeous and haunting album for an accomplished artist, who is extremely worthy of your time and attention.
Rating: A+, probably will end up on my year-end list if I actually do one this year