As Mount Eerie, and prior to 2004 as The MicrophonesPhil Elverum has pioneered a distinct form of existential music – hinged on a balance of boundlessness and intimacy – that feels entirely homegrown. While each album has been unique in sound and approach, they all grapple with big questions in ways that are human and relatable. The 2016 death of his wife, Geneviève Castrée, from cancer marked a monumental shift in his life and his music. In the months after her death, in the throes of grief and learning how to be a single parent to their young daughter, Elverum wrote and recorded the album that has become his most acclaimed work: A Crow Looked At Me. The intimacy implied by Elverum’s earlier work became the music’s overwhelming quality, with the words being sung creating a direct line between the listener and Elverum’s grief, presented clearly and unencumbered by flair. Now Only, written shortly following the release of A Crow Looked At Me and the first live performances of those songs, is a deeper exploration of that style of candid, undisguised lyrical writing. It portrays Elverum’s continuing immersion in the strange reality of Geneviève’s death, chronicling the evolution of his relationship to her and her memory, and of the effect the artistic exploration of his grief has had on his own life.

“Distortion,” the first song released from Now Only, is fleshed out texturally and seems to react to its lyrics in real time – In moments of confusion, dissonance abruptly makes itself known; in moments of clarity, gentle piano arises. Lyrically, it’s an existential reflection expressed with the same uniquely poetic candor Elverum employed to such effect on A Crow Looked At Me: “Though my life is a galaxy of subtleties/My complex intentions and aspirations do not matter at all/In the face of the crushing flow of actual time.” The song premiered last week on Pitchfork, which gave it “Best New Track” honors.

“As Elverum continues to pick at impossible questions, he situates Genevieve’s death within the full context of his life.” –Pitchfork (Best New Track)

“An epic that opens with a dissonant cloud of electric guitar before giving way to tumbling acoustic notes and Elverum’s stark singing voice as he weaves together thoughts and memories into an elegy for his late love.” -Paste

RIYL: Sun Kil Moon, Will Oldham / Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Julie Doiron, Mirah, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

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Label: P.W. Elverum & Sun

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