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Song You Need to Know: Adrianne Lenker, “Cradle”

An excellent singer-songwriter mixes fragile guitar playing and tough emotional realism

Adrianne LenkerAdrianne Lenker in concert at Murmrr Theatre, New York, USA - 06 Mar 2018

Adrianne Lenker in concert at Brooklyn's Murmrr Theatre.

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Adrianne Lenker has a way of building whole worlds inside the moods and moments we’d usually hope we don’t have to spend a minute in. The two albums she’s made fronting the excellent indie-rock band Big Thief are full of spartan guitar torment and intimations of a childlike fragility, predatory desire and bruised memory. As a solo artist, she spins prettily stark acoustic songs that are much quieter but no less gentle. “Cradle,” from her forthcoming second solo LP, is one such dark gem, evoking that feeling of not knowing whether it’s worth your time to push through an unyielding relationship impasse. “Earth is born/To wound and heal,” she sings, contrasting her situation with the bigger picture, not that you get the sense that realization is bringing her much solace. That contradiction is what makes this unassuming song such a rich place to dwell.

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