Taryn Miller is Your Friend. Hailing from Kansas and signed to UK label Domino Records; in the words of her close companion, Miller makes, “ambient folk, but she has this appreciation for the avant-garde and tries to incorporate it when she can.”
This ideal is central to the sound of her new record Gumption. Miller has developed the rawer folk sound of her previous 2014 effort Jekyll/Hyde into a denser more heady affair. She has employed the sounds of field recordings, scattered synthesizers and drum machines to the weave of her tune. Miller also enlisted super sound guy Nicolas Vernhes (War on Drugs, Deerhunter) to help transform her vision for the album into technical reality. His presence is undeniable on the record. Gumption sounds good. Its production is complex and lush.
True to her will, Miller has created a dark, introverted, floaty ambient folk album. The music seems to just have floated perfect and fully formed out of her lofty head. Like one channeled thought, the songs on it are slow and simple. Meditative and drone-like. Her focus on the abstract sonic elements that glisten all over the album is clear. This is something that Miller has previously mentioned is influenced by sonic artists such as the Caretaker and William Basinki.
It really is her lyrical content and ear for melody that stops these songs from lifting completely off into the world of sonic artistry and keeps them grounded in folk/pop music. The balance is good but sometimes a bit too formulaic. Sometimes it seems like the songwriting lacks and sonic techniuque is there trying to hold the whole thing up. Having said that Gumption is undoubtedly an artistic development for Your Friend. She set out to make a weird album and succeeded. It takes a few listens to sink in but once does, it is very comfortable there.
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