Sometimes I have to listen to an album a few times to decide how I feel about it. Not so with “The Wild,” the latest release from singer-songwriter Kris Delmhorst. It opens with the moody “All the Way Around” and the lyrics “I burned my eyes on the moon last night/I was looking for a reason to shine.” And shine is exactly what Delmhorst does on this entire album, which I’ve been absorbing into my bloodstream for the past two weeks.
She’ll be co-headlining at Stone Mountain Arts Center on Friday night with her husband, Jeffrey Foucault. I haven’t spent as much time with his music as I should, but even a quick pass through a handful of his songs revealed he’s no slouch either, but rather an excellent singer-songwriter himself, so I suspect this is going to be an exceptional night of song in Brownfield.
Getting back to “The Wild” and its 12 arresting tunes, “Rules to Games” is another standout. “I can see that you’re sick again/Sick of November/Sick of the city/Sick of your hands/Sick to death of the whole thing/Sick of just waiting.” This song wears a couple of different hats: It’s heartbreaking and cynical, but also a gorgeous snapshot of a difficult time. Slide guitar, Wurlitzer organ, acoustic guitar and drums come alive in this tune, and with Delmhorst’s clear, expressive voice, it’s all the more tender.
At the moment, my favorite track is “Hollow.” “Time don’t fly, it only crawls/In circles on the kitchen wall/And a song just ain’t no use all at if there’s no one who can play it.” This one is brutal in its despair, but it doesn’t hit you like a ton of bricks; it’s more subtle and slow with its takedown. And if that’s not enough, Delmhorst plays cello on the song.
Take a listen to “Hollow”
Oh, and super fun fact, the drummer on “The Wild” album is Billy Conway from Treat Her Right and Morphine, both legendary Boston bands.
The songs on “The Wild” are like journal entries, and Delmhorst covers a lot of ground with them. Try and lock the door all you want, but Delmhorst owns a spare set of keys to your heart with songs like “Tracks in the Snow” and “I Don’t Need to Know It All.” “The Wild” ends with “The Light in the Hall.” The song lays itself emotionally bare with the lines “Don’t let me fall asleep/Promises hard to keep/The loneliest leap/The farthest to fall.” When it ends you might have to just sit there for a moment and think about things. Then you’ll want to start back up with the opening track and do it all over again.
Here’s the brand new video to “All the Way Around”
Delmhorst’s discography is eight full-length albums strong, and I simply must shine a quick light on her 2014 album, “CARS.” It’s not called that because she loves automobiles. It’s called that because it’s a tribute to The Cars. Delmhorst makes her way through 11 Cars gems and deep-album cuts, including “You Might Think,” which is a song that historically annoyed me, despite being a Cars fan. Her version, however, is entirely fun, and it’s got strings. She also puts her stamp on “Drive,” and I think I hear an accordion in there. It’s awesome. “Just What I Needed” will knock your socks off. My favorite is “My Best Friend’s Girl,” complete with hand claps and a tongue-in-cheek delivery.
I’ll end with another fun fact. Delmhorst was raised in Brooklyn, New York, where she studied classical cello. Guess where she wound up for a stint? If you guessed rural Maine, you would be right — Belfast, Appleton and Rockland to be exact, working as an organic farmer and on schooners. While laid up nursing a broken ankle, she taught herself to play fiddle and guitar and started to write songs. Pretty great how things turned out.
P.S. Special shout-out to Delmhorst for writing one my theme songs. A little something called “Honeyed Out.”
8 p.m. Friday. Stone Mountain Arts Center, 695 Dugway Road, Brownfield, $20. stonemountainartscenter.com