A record I really liked last year was Masterpiece, the debut album by Brooklyn band Big Thief. They're back already with their second, Capacity and it confirms them as a formidable prospect indeed. The album, (like its predecessor), is no easy listen, as it's quite clearly from catching the briefest snippet of any one of its eleven tracks, the soundtrack to bruised and damaged lives.
Led by Adrianne Lenker, who has a remarkably emotive voice, articulating pained experience with such skill and care that it feels like you're being asked to stare into an open wound, Capacity, (the human ability to soak up all that life and other humans care to do to us and still endure?), is an astonishing document, a forty minute tour round a downtrodden shabby American smalltown blue collar community and the skeletons hidden in each and every closet there.
The band know very well what they're doing. They show that it's quite possible for a rock and roll band to chart the lives that some people are obliged to live with every bit as much nuance and depth as great writers of fiction. Raymond Carver and Denis Lehane come to mind in this particular respect. Capacity is a mighty step forward from Masterpiece which was a very fine record in its own right. This is right up there with the very best things I've heard this year.