In 2008 Phil Elverum, still solidifying his new musical identity after dissolving his lo-fi band the Microphones, first teamed up with Canadian indie-rocker Julie Doiron for the joint LP Lost Wisdom. Roughly ten years later, the duo is back with a stunning sequel of sorts, Lost Wisdom Pt. 2.
Much has happened for Eleverum in that decade: After he became a father in 2014, Elverum’s wife Geneviève Castrée died suddenly. That resulted in 2017’s jaw-dropping A Crow Looked At Me, which found the singer reckoning with his trauma head-on. “That’s how the songs are written:,” Elverum said in 2017, “‘Look in here. Look at me. Death is real.’”
Several releases later, Elverum is still meditating on grief and grace with poignancy on this hyper-literal album. On “Widows,” Elverum sets the scene of single parenthood in crushingly stark detail: “It’s almost Mother’s day/Me and the other widows will commiserate/Alone at Montessori again.”
Despite their relatively brief joint-resume, Elverum and Doiron work together with an intimacy that conveys a lifetime of collaboration and creation. Their interweaving voices are the guiding instruments in Mount Eerie’s sparse landscape of fractured folk and skeletal roots rock during downtempo highlights like “Belief pt. 2” and “When I Walk Out of the Museum.”
The album’s centerpiece comes halfway through the eight-song collection, on the slow building of “Love Without Possession.” Elverum and Doiron’s voices alternate between call and response testimony and gentle duet harmony in a song about being fearfully awakened by the “unattended fire” of unexpected new companionship. “What glows beneath, beneath all the pain and anguish?” Doiron asks out loud.
“Love that doesn’t die.”