A review of Mt. Eerie’s Masterpiece “A Crow Looked at Me.”
These are love songs. That is important to understand.
Death is real. This aspect of the album cannot, and should not be ignored. The loss of Phil Elverum’s wife, is the crux by which this album was forged. But as a larger concept, I think what the album is really about is love. Real love. The kind that doesn’t just vanish. The kind of love that in some psychic way, eats at you until you become only that love. The all consuming kind of love that most of us will never know.
Maybe it’s just easy to do, or hard not to, but I find readers and listeners often can’t tell the difference between sadness-in-longing for love, and sadness within love. This is an important distinction to make, and that being said, I also can’t figure out how to encourage people to listen to this record without sounding like I’m rejoicing in Phil Elverum’s pain, which I am absolutely not doing.
It is a tragic, confounding, and glaringly poignant record. It is beautiful, sparse, delicate, emphatic, and deeply sad. I have never had a listening experience like this before. I’m unsure if there has ever been one before this record.
The autobiography, the roman a clef, the confessional poem, these are not new forms, but this album, but this–whatever this is–is new territory, and I think, for more than any other reason, that alone is enough to listen to A Crow Looked at Me.
“It is a tragic, confounding, and glaringly poignant record.”
The songs are less poetic and musical, than they are impactful (not to say they aren’t musically lovely and poetically profound). His voice, it’s always been his voice, the same clear, soft, lightness of his voice that carries each chaotic song to the next, and that same clarity is found in almost holy levels on A Crow Looked at Me.
The record was released a little over a month ago now, and I wanted to sit on it before I wrote this. I wanted to know that this was something I wouldn’t regret doing, because, the thing is, this record is hard. It’s hard to listen to. It’s hard to write about. It’s hard to read about. It took me four tries just to finish the damn thing. I couldn’t digest the whole album in one sitting. I have no right to suffer from it, and to be honest, I don’t think I have. I think what this album does to me, is remind me in a way that nothing else ever has, that not only is death real, but love is too.