We may have overlooked this album when it came out in September, so I'd like to rewind and bring attention to this captivating release Seasons On Earth from Meg Baird, also of the band Espers. Baird is of another time, but her intimate, ethereal compositions ring relevant even in this ever-evolving digital age.
Seasons On Earth sounds like the whispers of a nymph in an enchanted medieval forest. Drawing from tradition folk, psych-folk and country influences, perhaps channeling the spirits of Druids that have been drinking moonshine, Meg Baird has created a fluid collection of rich, vibrant lullabies. I hear the essence of what I love about Espers II but with a deeply personal flair that breaks away from the band and establishes Baird as a unique voice all her own. She relaxes me in the same way as Jose Gonzalez and Joni Mitchell.
At their best, songs like "Even Rain," "Song For Next Summer" and "Share" build with unusual vocal melodies, harmonies and simply enthralling instrumentals. Even when it's just Meg and her guitar, like on passages of "Stream," the songs never sound thin or lacking. In general, I think the best songs are those that are good down to their skeletal structure. Baird's voice is mesmerizing and pure all by itself and her melodies stand alone. "Stream" vacillates between these quiet moments and explosions of acoustic and pedal steel guitar.
Though Meg Baird's voice is the thing I love most about the album, her playing should not be discounted. On "Stars Climb Up the Vine" she displays admirable musicianship on a dreamy ride of harp and guitar. We hear her mumble an encouraging "OK" to herself at the outset, setting the intimate tone for what's to follow.
The album includes covers of The House of Love's "The Beatles and the Stones" and Mark-Almonds "Friends." I think these songs do what covers are supposed to do-- Baird makes the songs her own, while retaining the spirit of the originals, the thing that makes them great. I love the deeply personal feeling, which recalls her earlier solo album, Dear Companion. However, I do still prefer the fading radio at the beginning of House of Love's version, as well as the playful lilt of Guy Chadwick's vocals.
This is an album best enjoyed while relaxing and doing quiet activities like reading, cleaning, or laying in the grass and enjoying the sunshine. Make a cup of tea and really listen to each song as it blooms.