Recordings | April 9, 2015

By Cait Brennan, April 9, 2015.

Namoli Brennet

Ditch Lilies

self-released | 

In a career full of astonishingly beautiful songs, Namoli Brennet continues to rise. Every album since her daring debut, Boy In A Dress, has been leaps and bounds above the last. On her new album, Ditch Lilies, Brennet steps up her game yet again with one of the strongest albums of the year.

Drawing on folk, country and rock influences, Ditch Lilies kicks off with “Marjorie,” a driving, desperate tale of an older woman trapped in a paycheck-to-paycheck grind. Brennet is a gifted storyteller who finds the humanity in each of her characters, often outsiders struggling to make it in a dehumanized world. The strong acoustic groove, subtle but gorgeous harmonies and extraordinarily fine musicianship stand out, with great slide guitar and mandolin flourishes. “Bloom” celebrates the possibility of second chances in “the freedom of a vine, the stretching poetry of shoots.”

It takes a delicate hand to write songs about political issues without sounding like sloganeering, but Brennet’s always been adept at making the political personal and vice-versa. The elegiac, do-not-go-gentle “Bleecker St.” is a trip through decades, celebrating progress in LGBT rights while cursing the hate and ignorance that made the struggle so necessary, and mourning the losses of those taken by HIV. Songs like “Babylon” and “18 Summers” touch on contemporary American life with the timelessness and power of traditional folk ballads.

Brennet’s voice has a gorgeous timbre that conveys urgency and tenderness with equal skill and her lyrics have a literary depth few can match. There’s no finer artist making music today, and Ditch Lilies is one of her best.

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