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Mariee Sioux Grief in Exile

Grief in Exile
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Mariee Sioux has long been beset with shaky comparisons to fellow Nevada City homegirl Joanna Newsom, but on Grief in Exile the two part ways decidedly. As Newsom's focus grows ever more metropolitan, futuristic even, Sioux remains defiantly bound to nature.

One of the last torch-bearers of New Weird America, Sioux, with high and fragile vocals layered in ghostly harmonies, echoes the seventies acid-folk chanteuses which that era helped resuscitate, like Vashti Bunyan and Linda Perhacs. The voice is barely there, but exhibits the kind of crystal-clear diction prized by the mid-century folk revivalists. She cradles her vocals in finger-style guitar, driving and rhythmic, but at points glistening and impressionistic, recalling old country blues and American primitivism.

Sioux invokes the prophecies and creation myths of her Native heritage

The record is inextricably American in general, both in its repurposing of familiar Americana - as with the filmic cowboy strings on 'Behind the Veil' - and in its musical embodiment of the sheer canyons and vast lakes of the continent. 'Snow Knows White' skids to a halt at its bridge as though it were a cliff edge, evoking the natural sublime as Sioux's voice rises, unanchored atop fluttering guitar and piano.

But the record is tied even more fundamentally to Turtle Island, as Sioux invokes the prophecies and creation myths of her Native heritage. 'Black Snakes' opens with the glow of synths, a rare touch of modernity made timeless, even primordial, as lyrics describe light splitting from itself. An "eagle cries over the drum" - nature and humanity are in harmony, their fates conjoined.

Andrew Trayford

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