Phil Elverum turned to what he knows best following the loss of his wife, artist and musician Geneviève Castrée. Elverum, who records under the name Mount Eerie, immediately threw himself into music in an effort to grieve and begin his healing process. Using his wife’s instruments, he began documenting his attempt to rise from the ashes of her death.
Elverum’s brutally honest and bare lyrics are the centerpiece of A Crow Looked At Me. He shares his journey of coping with Castrée’s passing and listeners are given a window into his heartbreaking reflection. The album itself is a healing journal.
Rather than using the album to give his reflections on death, he spends much of its 11 tracks describing the pain of absence and how that affects his life every day, instance by instance. Something as insignificant as taking out the trash can serve as a sobering reminder of Elverum’s reality.
The opener is his reflection on how artistic representations of death seem trivial when facing it head-on. He goes on to describe the grim reality of life without his partner. “Crusted with tears, catatonic and raw” he sings as he comes across a package from his late wife.
On “My Chasm,” Elverum contemplates whether or not those around him are actually concerned about him or just being polite. “Do the people around me want to keep hearing about my dead wife?” It’s another look into the mind of a husband trying to collect himself in the wake of a tragedy. He ends the song with the same assertion he opened the album with: “Death is real.”
Although the emotion and storytelling are the focal points of the album, the minimalist acoustics and piano provide an excellent backdrop. Most of the songs have a light background, allowing the sincerity of the vocals to shine and grip the listener.
A Crow Looked At Me is a poignant tale of grief, sorrow and healing. The heavy emotion that Elverum pours into each track is unapologetic and warrants a listen from those who appreciate storytelling. The album serves as a tragic tale of the tribulations of losing a spouse and a touching tribute by a husband looking onward for hope.
Follow reporter Hector Aguilar at Twitter.com/HectorJ_Aguilar.