By Cait Brennan, May 2015 Issue.

Mary Epworth

Dream Life

Highline Records | 

The tendency in music reviews is to compare something new to something that’s come before, which is an impossible task with Mary Epworth. One can suss out influences and inspirations, but she’s an artist of breathtaking originality and rare courage. From the astonishing single “September” – potentially the greatest minute and a half in the history of rock – to the eerie, lysergic synth-funk of “The Wolf And The Woods,” Epworth pushes deeper into the mystic than any other contemporary artist. Think Bowie, St. Vincent, PJ Harvey and Kate Bush. She’s that good.

Her debut, Dream Life, is a heady mix of psychedelia, harmony-soaked sunshine pop, take-no-prisoners rock and fever-dream imagery that will stay with you long after it’s over. “Long Gone” starts off almost at a whisper before its chorus thunders across the sky triumphant on the wings of archangels, all gospel fire and pagan heart. But the second punch lands even harder: “Black Doe,” a secret in the woods, all mystery and hushed tones, suddenly blasts open with a fuzz-pedal feedback apocalypse and drums that pound harder than any Sabbath or Stooges album ever could.

The perfect “Sweet Boy” left its broken heart in Hawthorne, Calif., while “Two For Joy” amps up the dizzying psych-shoegaze quotient to great effect. “Heal This Dirty Soul” makes the gospel influence explicit. “Six Kisses” recalls a bit of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” (but thankfully is not another cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”). “Ray Of Sunlight” ends the set like an alternate-universe Laurel Canyon psych gem, like Neil Young jamming with Linda Perhacs. You’ve never heard music like this. Dream Life came out in the United Kingdom in 2012, but is just now being released here, and Epworth is currently on tour in the US and already has a new album is in the works.

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Photo courtesy of The Dinah

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Photo courtesy of Michael Feinstein.

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