Silver Ladders by Mary Lattimore
The tide turns with less experimentation
Whether it's a monumental 27 minute ode to a unicorn or a Pop-length paean, the defining character of Los Angeles-based Mary Lattimore's music is the sprawling layers of harp. Embellishing those layer with the special effects Lattimore liberally employs means her productions often cross from balming to imposing in a flash, peering into dark corners while veering towards the light, hovering between performance art and listening pleasure. Balancing this audial angle, since her 2013 debut The Withdrawing Room, there's always a considered reflection in Lattimore's output, an unspoken dialogue on subjects like grief, loss, memory and transformation, and this theme endures on Silver Ladders.
Collaboration as a tool for inspiration and production clearly works for Lattimore, previous cohorts include Thurston Moore, Sharon Van Etten, Jarvis Cocker and Kurt Vile. This time she's teamed up with Slowdive's Neil Halstead, who plays dreamy guitar in perfect harmony with her stirring strings, a result that leans to the side of listening pleasure, like Wawa by the Ocean, the first track of hers I fell in love with. I've craved for its like since, a hunger that's lingered until now.
Recorded by the sea, with themes of the ocean and tides and the delicate balance of life and death central to its concept, Silver Ladders is an album that can be appreciated on many levels. Halstead's reverb-rich guitar adds an ominous vibe to Lattimore's cascading notes, like a conversation between mother nature and a tiny human life, consumed.