Boomkat Product Review:
Natalie Mering's fifth album is an open-hearted, devotional suite of dreamy, Laurel Canyon-inspired pop - one for fans of Joni Mitchell, Patsy Cline, or Aimee Mann.
2019's "Titanic Rising" launched Weyes Blood, aka Natalie Mering, into the stratosphere, whether she wanted it or not. But before the album had even had a chance to really settle, Mering was experiencing an unusual sickness (spoiler: it was an early case of COVID) and stuck in isolation. "And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow" is the second in a proposed trilogy, described by Mering as "an observation of things to come." And while that could suggest an internalized trek through the anguish of isolation, it's in fact relatively upbeat - Mering's songs are confidently open-ended, approaching tricky subjects - narcissism, Buddhism, imprisonment, pain - and infusing them with lightness and firm Californian musical history.
She might be based in NYC now, but Mering's music still sparkles with the kind of West Coast sunshine that made the music of Joni Mitchell, Linda Ronstadt, and David Crosby so endlessly enduring. Like her predecessors, Mering is able to buoy her anxieties and stresses with taught, breezy instrumentation and, if not a 'devil may care' attitude, then one that's lighter than you might expect given the material. It's actually uplifting to hear someone approaching pop music with so much emotional complexity, and while the songs are familiar - even the production throughout is a love-letter to studio standards that have long since declined - Mering's warmth makes listening unchallenging and deeply rewarding. File alongside last year's brilliant (and underrated) Marissa Nadler album "The Path of the Clouds".