Boomkat Product Review:
Harpist Mary Lattimore's new full-length is inspired by a hotel in Croatia, and features Slowdive's Rachel Goswell, Roy Montgomery, Samara Lubelski, Lol Tolhurst of The Cure, Meg Baird and Walk McClements. Gorgeous stuff, it's like Joanna Newsom and Colleen making folksy, dream pop ambience.
When Lattimore was visiting a friend who lived at Hotel Arkada on the Croatian island of Hvar, she was told that next time she visited, its immense, old-school ballrooms and chandeliers would be gone, lost to modernisation. She began to think about how things change when you're away - from a vase of flowers petrifying slowly, to the world itself, choking as the climate shifts beyond control. 'Goodbye, Hotel Arkada' is her ode to loss, a delicate musing on aging and temporality that attempts to freeze emotions for a moment, capturing complex ambivalence through six charming, airy compositions. Like its predecessor 'Silver Ladders', the album uses the harp in a particularly unique way, drawing on shoegaze and dreampop as much as it does folk, augmenting familiar plucks with delicate electronic elements and contributions from friends and inspirations.
Two of Lattimore's closest friends appear on the first track 'And Then He Wrapped His Wings Around Me'. Singer-songwriter Meg Baird hums and coos over Lattimore's celestial twinkles, and accordionist Walt McClements, Lattimore's regular touring partner, adds soft drones. The track was inspired by a childhood memory of seeing Sesame Street Live! in Asheville, North Carolina, and the trio work to secure this playful mood by zeroing in on the magic inherent in their instrumentation. Comparatively, 'Blender in a Blender' is more melancholy, sounding not unlike the enigmatic 'Resident Evil 1' soundtrack at first blush, before New Zealand legend Roy Montgomery's pliable guitar swells offer an emotional anchor, intensifying into throbbing, distorted strums.
Surprisingly, the album's most Slowdive-inspired moment isn't the collaboration with Rachel Goswell, it's 'Music for Applying Shimmering Eye Shadow', a slow-burner that starts with reverb-drenched guitar plucks and synth, and patiently waits for the expectedly ornate harp flourishes that dominate the final act. When Goswell does appear, it's on the album's closing track 'Yesterday's Parties', one that Lattimore admits is influenced by Julee Cruise and The Velvet Underground. NYC-based multi-instrumentalist Samara Lubelski plays violin, while Goswell sings wordlessly over Badalamenti-inspired synth chords and Lattimore's molasses-slow plucks. It's beautiful stuff, a perfectly smokey curtain call for a sensitive and thoughtful album.