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Hilary Woods
Colt Brian Coney , June 14th, 2018 07:52

This debut, on Sacred Bones, announces a sublime new voice

That Irish artist Hilary Woods recently wound up on the roster of Sacred Bones feels nothing short of foreordained. A multi-instrumentalist occupying the same oneiric headspace that the Brooklyn imprint in question excels at, via David Lynch, Zola Jesus and John Carpenter among others, the news doubled up as comeuppance for an artist who has worked hard at unearthing her very own sonic netherworld.

She spent her late teens jetsetting as a member of Dublin alt-rock band JJ72 but, 15 years later, Woods’ experiences of the pace and toil of the open road are a world apart from the somnambulist sway of her debut album. Colt stems from a sphere where rumination - not musical bluster nor breakneck pursuit of success - proves its own muse.

Following the release of two EPs, in 2014 and 2016, Colt delves into tucked-away interior worlds to tackle disquiet and desertion with extraordinary restraint. The prayerful tone threaded through the album runs parallel with Woods’ clear desire for resolution. These eight paeans aren’t aimless cathartic exercises: they grasp at the roots of memory, each lyric bounds from the past like coral clinging to the underside of a shipwreck. Conjuring the lo-fi lonerism of Willis Earl Beal’s Noctunes, opener ‘Inhaler’ is an inverted ode to homesickness in which piano and beats quietly bob on a sad stretch of synth. ‘Prodigal Son’ is a self-proclaimed “purging of misplaced loyalty” that proves a lucid peak early on. "With time I've toughened up / 'Cause your love it was never here / I was worshipping an imagined sphere,” Woods intones, firm yet in a whisper, above a miasma of vaporous drone.

Recorded on an eight-track in her flat, Colt steadily emerges as a feature-length celebration of what solitude can yield when approached with creative ablution in mind and the right amount of inspiration at one’s disposal. Woods sounds at home in her seclusion and strikes a chimeric midpoint between electronic and acoustic worlds. From the melange of unobtrusive textures that make up ‘Jesus Said’ to ‘Black Rainbow’ - a musky Badalamentian ballad that would surely have been in contention for a small-screen appearance at the Bang Bang Bar had it been released two years ago - Woods’ artful confessionalism comes from a place where restraint is more resounding than any wall of noise. As it peters out via the woozy billow of ‘Limbs’, Colt reveals an artist not merely unafraid to wield vulnerability as relief à la Grouper, Marissa Nadler, Chelsea Wolfe and others - it marks the arrival of a new voice crafting sublime bedroom narratives of trauma, recovery and quiet victory.