Heather Woods Broderick Paints A Portrait Of Solitude With 'Invitation' | WOSU Radio

Heather Woods Broderick Paints A Portrait Of Solitude With 'Invitation'

Apr 30, 2019
Originally published on April 30, 2019 8:32 pm

Heather Woods Broderick needed a change. After more than seven years of living on the road, backing up artists like Sharon Van Etten, Broderick moved from Brooklyn to a spot on the Oregon coast, near where she'd spent summers as a child. Broderick's latest album, Invitation, out now, is a musical portrait of that upheaval.

It took Broderick time to adjust to the solitude in Oregon. She found herself thinking about impermanence and transformation. Pretty soon, she was writing songs, surrounding those thoughts with quietly beautiful, ear-stretching chords.

"A Stilling Wind" opens Broderick's third album. It was one of the first things she wrote after her move and describes a pilgrimage Henry David Thoreau would recognize — walking in nature, getting quiet, asking the questions we only confront in solitude.

There's an orchestral sweep to Broderick's music. She writes sturdy pop melodies, then creates tense layers, often involving a string quartet, that pull the songs away from the conventional. Nothing feels tied down. Even the recurring pulses of electronic music become decorative elements.

It's been a strong season for female singer-songwriters. Since Brandi Carlile's Grammy wins this past February, 2019 has had acclaimed releases from Sara Bareilles, Carsie Blanton and more. This new work from Broderick belongs in that company, even though it offers something a little different. It's singer-songwriter introspection rendered with a wild, windblown lightness.

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

A few years ago, musician Heather Woods Broderick moved from Brooklyn to a spot on the Oregon coast, near where she'd spent summers as a child. She'd been living on the road, backing up other artists, for more than seven years, and she needed a change. Broderick's new album, called "Invitation," is a musical portrait of that upheaval.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MY SUNNY ONE")

HEATHER WOODS BRODERICK: (Singing) It's been far from a sunny one. Now it's fleeting as fast as sun-dappled water. It's been far from a sunny one. Now it's fleeting as fast as sun-dappled water (ph).

CHANG: Reviewer Tom Moon says it's one of the most picturesque works to emerge from this year's crowded field of female singer-songwriters.

TOM MOON, BYLINE: It took Heather Woods Broderick some time to adjust to the solitude in Oregon. She says it was unsettling at first. She found herself thinking about stuff like impermanence and transformation. And pretty soon, she was writing songs, surrounding her thoughts with quietly beautiful, ear-stretching chords.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "A STILLING WIND")

BRODERICK: (Singing) Further north than where I spent the year, at the edge of the cape, feet swinging in the atmosphere (ph).

MOON: That song's called "A Stilling Wind." It was one of the first things Broderick wrote after her move. It describes a pilgrimage Henry David Thoreau might recognize. Walking in nature, getting quiet, asking questions we only confront in solitude, like have I changed yet?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "A STILLING WIND")

BRODERICK: (Singing) Have I changed yet, or do my habits still remain? In the cold wood, lighting the night-filled day (ph).

MOON: There's an orchestral sweep to Broderick's music. She writes sturdy pop melodies, then creates tense layers, often involving a string quartet, that pull the songs away from the conventional. Nothing feels tied down. Even the recurring pulses of electronic music become decorative, part of the wind.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHITE TAIL")

BRODERICK: (Singing) To remain in a swollen sphere of all things, hanging around, following behind the white ahead, moving through the white tail of the jet stream (ph).

MOON: It's been a strong season for female singer-songwriters. Since Brandi Carlile's Grammy wins in February, we've had acclaimed releases from Sara Bareilles, Sharon Van Etten, Carsie Blanton, Billie Eilish. The list goes on.

This new work from Heather Woods Broderick belongs in that company, even though it offers something a little different - singer-songwriter introspection rendered with a wild, windblown lightness.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THESE GREEN VALLEYS")

BRODERICK: (Singing) On one side of my shelter, I've been minding these green valleys.

CHANG: The new album from Heather Woods Broderick is called "Invitation." Our reviewer is Tom Moon.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THESE GREEN VALLEYS")

BRODERICK: (Singing) They don't always speak to me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.