Adrianne Lenker gives a bright future to folk music

For all of the girls that sometimes wish they could be a bug
to experience being smaller and more hopeless than they already
feel, Adrianne Lenker has done it again. On Friday, March 22, Big
Thief ’s Adrianne Lenker released her fifth solo album, “Bright
Future.” Much like her other works as both a band member and
solo artist, she encapsulates listeners with her sweet yet haunting
voice that has become a staple for indie folk fans. As a whole, this
album is a celebration of naturalism in both theme and sound.

From what I could hear, Lenker applies practically no
autotuning to her voice or computer generated instrumentals.
In today’s music world, it can be hard to find mainstream folk
albums that stray from using modern technology to enhance
their tracks, but Lenker proved that doing the opposite is what
gives her music its magical and grounded sound. You hear her
breaths, a hand moving up and down the neck of a guitar, and
raspy background vocals while depicting scenes of nostalgia,
nature, and complicated love.

“Bright Future” opens with a somewhat risky track; it is
the longest and most raw song on the entire album. However,
“Real House” succeeds in introducing Lenker’s style and the
overarching tone of the following songs. The narrative itself is
elusive, but the lyrics read as poetry. Although it is interpretive,
listeners know they are in for musical representations of lost
loves, seasons as metaphors and the beauty of the mundane.

A personal standout for me was the third track, “Fool.” Lenker
sings the frustrations of watching those you know fall in love
and get their lives together while you scrabble to find someone
to do life with. The sound itself also slightly strays from thetypical stripped down folk style Lenker maintains throughout
the album, and although I appreciate the consistency, variety is
always appreciated.

Lenker interestingly included a previously released song from
her band, “Vampire Empire.” Although the song caught traction
on social media platforms, significantly Tiktok, she offers a
completely new aura with this variation, one that I honestly
prefer over the original. In accordance with the sound of the
entire album, she replaces slow drums and an electric guitar
with a doubled-time acoustic guitar and a fiddle. There is also an
added grain to the vocals, and all of the above adds to the passion
and frustration the lyrics infer.

Continuing down the album, the songs do start to seam into
one another. Lenker’s lyricism is always admirable, but due to
the specific sound she set up the album to have, the tracks begin
to get a little repetitive. However, the closing song, “Ruined,” is
thankfully a standout. Performed with only a piano, the same
as the opening track, it thematically concludes the album. In
contrast to the first song, the chords are more simplistic, as well
as Lenker’s lyrics. Throughout the album, it seems as though
the frustrations that Lenker experiences break her down, and as
a result, so do her lyrics and instrumentals. I doubt that this is
unintentional as I regard Lenker as the lyricist that most Swifties
do to their lord and savior.

“Bright Future” feels like a hug, but a hug that means,
“goodbye, for a long time.” If there is any artist of our generation
who can recreate that experience through song, it is with no
doubt Lenker.