The brooding melodies of Marika Hackman’s We Slept At Last carry one through 45 minutes of trance inducing ballads. It sounds at times like a mystic court musician, telling wary tales of faraway lands, or the creed of an artist already versed in the complications of what musicianship means. The album through and through sounds outside of it’s era, and could easily have come out any time between the 1990’s and 2020’s.
There exists a constant clash of folk melodies with light guitar and interspersed drums, and yet the addition of panpipes and collision of major and minor keys with Hackman’s dark and haunting lyrical subject matter. Take the lyrics from Ophelia, in reference to the Hamlet character who committed suicide at the rejection of marriage, also the theme of the song.
“She who walks alone in life is she of sound mind?
I am only as old as I’ve been told”
Or such again in a lullaby inspired by Debussy’s “The Girl With Flaxen Hair” in her song Claude’s Girl.
“Turn off my mind, I beg you
It’s buzzing like the Devil’s bow”
The simplicity of Hackman’s melodies layered with the complexity of her lyrical illusions create a greater sense of construction of the album that might be passed over upon the first listen. Her addition of flutes and cello on such songs as Monday Afternoon provides harmonious unity with the folk melodies aforementioned. They also provide a stirring contrast and pleasant uplifting tune that differs from the more hopeless lyrical themes on the majority of the album. A love song taking place in a forest, akin to the aesthetic Hackman maintains throughout the album, seemingly to break away, and yet, the haunting events unfold with death, and still the bittersweet ending that makes it characteristic of the album, ending in the lines
“I feel no pain
The blood is frozen in my veins
And although you were here in the morning
My skin was cold before you came”
We Slept at Last is a brooding tonal folk album worthy of praise, and a must listen for fans of Imogen Heap, Frou Frou, Cat Power, and J Tillman.