National Lights

This trio from Richmond, Virginia, includes singer/songwriter/guitarist Jacob Thomas Berns; Earnest Christian Kiehne Jr., a multi-instrumentalist who plays almost every folk instrument you can think of; and Sonya Cotton, who supplies breathy mountain harmonies. The gentle ambient folk music here spins a subtle web, and while the music is light and dreamy, beneath the surface a dark, bitter heart is beating. The songs on Dead Will Walk explore the mind of a young man who's just killed his lover, or maybe he's just contemplating murder. It's that ambivalence that gives the tunes an almost unbearable tension. The songs are poetic, playing hide and seek with ghosts, sexual obsession, jealousy, graves, knives, and handguns, with lyrics that are of full of the quiet rage and chilling self-delusional alibis that everyone who commits a horrible crime must tell himself, made even more unsettling by Berns' placid, almost whispered vocals.

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