The Americana-tinged dream pop made by Molly Hamilton and Robert Earl Thomas as Widowspeak never ceases to calm the nerves. With their languidly lilting guitar numbers and Hamilton's syrupy drawl, Widowspeak evoke a fair amount of '90s nostalgia— Hamilton sounds frighteningly similar to Hope Sandoval, lead singer of Mazzy Star, a band which also successfully established themselves with slow-moving tracks built around guitars and decorated with harmonica and tambourine flourishes. Now, Widowspeak return with All Yours, the follow-up to 2013's Almanac and the band's third full-length release.
Clocking in at over six minutes, lead single "Girls" is the record's longest track and one that immediately stands out with its lazy, floating harmonica and Hamilton's frank musings on being unsure of herself and what she wants. Lamenting the struggle of one who has grown further from their "wilder years," "Girls" puts into focus the confidence-eroding tendencies of someone who constantly compares themselves to others.
The album's most refined moments come on "Stoned," a track which features a sinister, grungey intro not too dissimilar to that of "Harsh Realm," one of the band's early hits. With well-executed stops and the inclusion of a Mazzy Star-esque tambourine outro, Hamilton cries out "you've got me faded/and I've been waiting," bemoaning the intoxicating influence of new lust and the inevitable disillusion of crashing back down to earth.
With bright piano, reverb-drenched guitars, and persistent shakers, "My Baby's Gonna Carry On" provides All Yours with a good change of pace following the easy-going ballad "Cosmically Aligned." The track begins with a subtle (or unintentional?) nod to "Summer Babe" by '90s indie gods Pavement as Hamilton whispers that the "summer babes had all been lyin' out," a barb with the same tongue-in-cheek nonchalance made so famous by Pavement leading man Stephen Malkmus. Elsewhere, lead guitarist Robert Earl Thomas makes his first vocal contributions on "Borrowed World," an acoustic-driven jaunt through the indiscretions of the past. With a sharp bass line and a ethereal slide guitar providing color, "Borrowed World" gets the second half of All Yours off to a vibrant start.
Throughout the album, Hamilton and Thomas present us with moments of genuine quality — the catchy, upward floating vocal melody on the title track comes to mind, as does the slow and measured elegance on "Cosmically Aligned." Still, for all of its well-intentioned intricacies and insightful lyrical content, Widowspeak's latest record regularly feels flavorless and stale.
Despite its shortcomings, All Yours is a pleasant and warm take on a breakup album — its like a cozy late-afternoon punctuated by a cup of coffee and a joint; its a combination capable of redirecting your day for better or worse, and too often on All Yours is that once freshly baked high wasted — the album's most impressionable moments are quick to fade, especially in the midst of its more mediocre, uninspired bits (take "Narrows" and "Coke Bottle Green" for example). Solid yet unspectacular, Widowspeak do well to create a worthy collection of songs, but too often does All Yours feel as featureless as the idyllic images of American countrysides the band's dusty dream pop so successfully evokes.