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Aimee Wilson | Unto Us the Sun

album review by John Powell

Aimee Wilson | Unto Us the Sun

Dark, serene, spiritual, cloistered, dramatic, and a thousand other heavy descriptors help to understand Aimee Wilson’s Unto Us the Sun, a lush and elegant album that may fall on the line between country folk and indie music. One thing is for certain: Unto Us the Sun will not take on the first listen.

Aimee’s voice is soft, strained, and something like Beth Orton, never too dynamic but nevertheless sincere. It does not immediately come off as pretty or organized, but she will burrow into you over time, especially on this finely crafted album.

The CD version is well made, with all the lyrics, bits of sheet music, and a look matching the prairie sadness vibe of the album. Although she sings each line as if her heart is breaking, the lyrics don’t really make a ton of sense all the time:

“And in this ascent we go/ the shaking ground that takes us to the ocean,” she offers on “Ascent”. The scene is set, but it’s all over the place. On “Celebration” she sings, “When the raven spins his days in a clock I cannot find/ while I bend and break the frames so my hands will feel your side.” It’s pretty stuff, for sure, but what does it all mean, especially later when she offers, “Silently we hear the birds singing/ a tune that speaks clearly in the place of our beginning.”

Some songs strike, as on “Royalene” when Aimee sings, “I was agreeing with all the reasons you lived outside/ a canyon rings in all the ridges of your mind;” but more than anything, the light acoustic guitar that fills every track, the soft piano, the sparse arrangements altogether develop the calming and bittersweet feel of the album’s whole.

Each song takes it’s time, and in fact, the biggest criticism is that the songs are simply too long, and all incredibly slow tempo’d. I can’t imagine seeing a live performance of this album. It would get hard to sit through not two songs in. As an album, however, Unto Us the Sun is palatable, even gorgeous, at times.

Aimee did not make an album to bust out on a road trip, though; it’s a rainy night album, something so disarmingly slow that it will zap your energy. If I were going to make a music video for any of these songs, there’d be Aimee in a flowing, silk rags blowing in the breeze through a hazy filtered lens. Blackbirds or crows would be pecking at carrion in the middle of the desert, and the sky would be on the verge of a summer storm. If that sounds like your bag, check out Unto Us the Sun.

Bottom line: Pretty lyrics don’t make any sense; music is beautiful; sparse but not concise…This album is a paradox.


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