Song of the Day: Weyes Blood - Land of Broken Dreams

Song of the Day
11/27/2014
Jacob Webb
photo by Shawn Brackbill

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “Land of Broken Dreams” by Weyes Blood from the 2014 album The Innocents on Mexican Summer.

Weyes Blood - Land of Broken Dreams (MP3)

In the midst of a revived interest in folk music, Weyes Blood stands out as one of the wave's more singular torchbearers, eschewing bombast and strict traditionalism for a compositionally-focused approach and electronic elements. Behind the Flannery O'Connor-referencing moniker is (now) Brooklyn-based songwriter Natalie Mering, who spent time as a member of Jackie-O Motherfucker and the backing vocalist on Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti's Mature Themes. Mering refocused her efforts as a solo artist in 2011, releasing her debut The Outside Room via Bandcamp, and as she subsequently traveled across the United States, she captured those experiences in songs that would eventually form her debut album, this year's The Innocents.

The Innocents opens with "Land of Broken Dreams", a song that flips the title of a song from the quintessential American songwriter to find the country ever at war with itself. Anchored to a folk chord progression and swirling, ghastly sound effects, Mering's voice recalls the same resonant mourning that PJ Harvey channelled on her masterful meditation on England at war, Let England Shake, and its timbre only adds more force to lines like "what do you do when you’re sedated/and proved a failure in some man’s world?" Although the song seems to survey American history as a whole rather than one event, it's impossible to divorce "Land of Broken Dreams" from the events in Ferguson, Missouri that went on after the record's completion, which only adds more bite to the most devastating lyric on the song: a grave, defeated delivery of "Stand by to believe in the land of the free, whatever you want it to be". Although Mering had no idea of what would happen only weeks later, in "Land of Broken Dreams", she arrestingly captured the prevalent sense of dread that would soon hang over the country.

Aside from a show in New York next month, Mering doesn't have any tour dates lined up. Keep up with her on Facebook and her Twitter in case she announces dates for the new year, and below, watch the video for em>The Innocents' "Cold Winter".

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