Front Row Seat To Heaven. Firstly, there’s the album’s cover: a beautiful photograph of Weyes Blood that could be an oil painting from between the mid 19th century until much of the figurative painting of today. It is an album cover that has the ability to adorn a living environment or even amplify one’s commitment to tasteful living as a symbol if displayed. The cage has become a bird, as Alejandra Pizarnik puts it, and has flown away (once the music is on.)
And my heart has become mad, as Pizarnik continues in her poem “El Despertar” published in 1958. Mad in the poete maudit sense, a magnet to beauty, happily living magnetic fields instead of burden, as Andre Breton would put it – gazing at dead stars, pleasured.
Blood’s album’s songs are slow and steady in a way not made for celebrating the world as we are sold it: its rooms, walks, buildings, conversations, stops, and expectation of spectacle when it comes to music, as per how we are proposed those concepts through mass media. It is a music that produces want, and desire: for something that will not be unless if the city council changes into a council of discussers and readers who have felt, heard, meant, and dealt more than norm.
She comes off as a new Joan Baez, a chanteuse maudit, in her singing: as if she had always liked Joan Baez and that she had one morning, one normal morning, one normal morning of normal fruit, average milk, and computer screen, decided that she would produce more than Joan Baez singing, post Joan Baez singing, to have produced something like Joan Baez singing for the society that she lives. Then there’s the fact that she doesn’t dress like Joan Baez nor is she a singer of folk songs like “Joe Hill” (I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night / alive like you or me.) She’s not a new Joan Baez in content, just in singing style.
Like Baez she feeds the res publica, the republic. She is a republican chanteuse, producing song that will culture the soul, as opposed to fill her coffers. They are songs for the agora, for the onlooker. Unlike Baez, there is a materialism that comes with Blood’s music: an ambient materialism without wordy detail similar to large figurative paintings in dark red, blue, or pink. “Seven Words,” “Do You Need My Love”: her album’s songs feel like an entryway to another living and its owns walls, floors, doors, that are not made to be propaganda of wolf pack power and how lasting power can be, but perhaps of a world where the symbol for its soul is, instead, the song of (small, urban) birds as cellist Pau Casals put his Catalonia. Indie music is a house built on punk and this sort of music seems to be dismounting the structures that house enterprises and fuel the arrogance of business people, dismounting to mount other indie structures.
I think of Maya Lin’s architecture when I hear Blood’s songs: houses that seem both otherworldly and present, infinitely beautiful (beauty without end.) Their designs are magnetic. I imagine what a town center would be like if you let her design it. Rustic, her houses seem to be in tune with the cosmos and the perfect settle-ment. Her Langston Hughes library for Stanford University is exactly what I mean: new luxury, so great at being material. The library probably costs a fortune, as Blood’s dressing looks like it does.
It has spirit and fight. Democratic elitism is what this is: materialist elitism in a democracy wherein all voice their opinions aloud and there is no history of Kings, Queens, and courts deciding on taste. She’s playing the game of democracy like others are, her guitar and act in the commons. Blood’s weakness is that her lyrics like “when my soul is weak / from dreaming” are a bit weak. Her strength is in the organization, the shape, of her songs. They are universes of rebellion but also of elegance that inspire dance in a listener. The dancing that this music asks for is somewhere between ballet dance and ritualistic dance: not theater but not blind adherence either but certainly art and work for the sake of beauty. It seems to be music to dance while inside of a world architected and urbanized by Maya Lin for the public, a world that is objectively beautiful and magnetically so. It is a world that does not exist and yet here are its songs and also its front cover photograph. Hers are “a song – a tunnel I pass through” as Pizarnik puts it.