“This came out just last December but I still got really mad at my ignorance when I learned of its existence only a few days ago. An extra day without new Paige Anderson songs is a wasted day indeed.” I said that about Paige Anderson and Fearless Kin‘s last album, 2012’s Wild Rabbit EP, and history repeated itself for their new LP, Foxes in June, released in the final weeks of 2014, but unknown to me until now.
Foxes in June is as great as you’d expect an Anderson Family offering to be. They create country soundscapes awesomely tense, dark, dense, sparse. Out of banjo, fiddle, and guitar they weave some kind of ruthless wicker sea–steady seams of banjo swelled and crashed by their tidal vocal harmonies. They sound great.
For me, the thing at stake for a band who’s played so well for so long from such a young age is Paige’s songwriting. How has that grown since Wild Rabbit? This is the biggest batch of original Paige Anderson songs yet. What does she have in mind for their first full-length?
In Foxes in June‘s first few tracks, she continues to prove herself a unique narrative storyteller. She sets a beautiful scene in “Rebel’s Run:” “a small town / with too many trees / and not enough men.” The song plays out almost like a morally bereft version of the standard “Saginaw Michigan.” Anderson’s stories often reach back through history and haul forth some older iconography, old words–similar to the writing in Austin Lucas’ first few albums. If these stories want for anything, it’s a little more immediacy–songs where the singer is a character in addition to a narrator. We get that side of Anderson’s songwriting in the beautiful title track:
Everything is much too fast / everything is so demanding / I run through desert dust and cross both my fingers / that I know to do better this time around
Foxes are running in the middle of June / It made my heart numb / Wasn’t easy to do / The lessons I’ve learned on my lungs (maybe numbed my lungs?) / It’s easy to breathe again.
“It made my heart numb, wasn’t easy to do”–that line is staying with me. There are tons of gorgeous descriptive moments throughout the album. Anderson displays a Neko-like knack for detail. And the music is always there framing those moments. “Flying Rocks” is a song hauled forth from 2010’s Lubricated Zine mixtape, where it was recorded by Paige solo. Over four years older, the song is understandably more confident than that recording, but it still maintains that wobbly momentum, the vocal melody leaning a moment ahead of the guitar. On “Enable,” Anderson carries the stark, almost empty folk tune into jazzy, crooner territory. Her voice is heavy with so much drama, it’s like she’s swallowed up in a brutal Shepard dialogue with the accompanying fiddle. The album leaves us with an instrumental, the dusky western “Sonoran Moonrise,” reinforcing the power of this family unit, as able to propel stories without words as with harmonies.