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Adrianne Lenker Of Big Thief On 'abysskiss' And How Songs Can Heal

Adrianne Lenker's new record, <em>abysskiss</em>, is out now on Saddle Creek.
Shervin Lainez
Adrianne Lenker's new record, abysskiss, is out now on Saddle Creek.

My No. 1 album for 2017 was Big Thief's Capacity.In 2016 their album Masterpiece was in my top five. So when I heard that Adrianne Lenker, Big Thief's singer and songwriter, had a new solo record, I was all ears.

The album is called abysskiss(spelled as one word, all lower case). It's a quiet affair, introspective and deep-reaching in it's lyrics, and Adrianne Lenker talked about her desire to explore those ideas when we spoke at the end of September.

"I've felt since I was a kid this desperate longing to be closer to — I don't know what," she told me. "Just to something bigger, to be in conversation with the mystery of everything. Like, where do we really come from? We pop into existence and we know that we die and we know that we lose everyone that we love and we know we even lose our own bodies. And what a paradigm. What a mystery."

Adrianne's fingerpicked guitar and ambient sounds set the tone for the album's 10 songs. The album, which she co-produced with Luke Temple, is out now on Saddle Creek.

The newest song released from abysskiss is one called "from." It's the sort of song I'm a sucker for, one where the words paint pictures all the while remaining mysterious and oblique. It's what I often want from music: that feeling of being carried away by the tone and imagery in a song.

Adrianne Lenker had just arrived in Joshua Tree when we spoke by phone, and I asked her something I've been asking a lot of people lately, What is it that you want from music — what do you want music to do to you? Here's how she began to answer that question:

"To me it's something that connects my body with the more intangible, ethereal, mysterious realm. It feels like a bridge, or a portal.

I can't really choose how I'm going to connect to music. I find it just has to hit a wave, and just wash over me and take me completely to some other space. [Until I] feel like it could take me out of my body, it could take me into the cosmos or it could... bring me further into my body in a way too."

You can hear more from our conversation at the audio link on this page.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

In 1988, a determined Bob Boilen started showing up on NPR's doorstep every day, looking for a way to contribute his skills in music and broadcasting to the network. His persistence paid off, and within a few weeks he was hired, on a temporary basis, to work for All Things Considered. Less than a year later, Boilen was directing the show and continued to do so for the next 18 years.