Post-Empire is Will Stratton's fourth solo record, and his first release with us. It is his subtlest and most devastating album yet. The album's skeleton was recorded at Rare Book Room in Greenpoint, Brooklyn by Nicolas Vernhes (famed engineer for Spoon, Deerhunter, Cat Power, Animal Collective, Dirty Projectors and more).
After laying down the basic guitar and vocal tracks there to tape in a day and a half, with one or two takes per song, Will carefully wrote out arrangements for a string sextet and, after a quick rehearsal, recorded them with friends in his Red Hook, Brooklyn apartment. Then vocalists Amelia Meath (Mountain Man, Feist) and Maia Friedman (BOBBY) lent their lustrous voices to several songs in between touring commitments. The result is a record that is strikingly spare and lush at the same time.
Like Will’s previous record, 2010′s hastily-recorded New Vanguard Blues, the focal point of Post-Empire is his insistent fingerstyle guitar playing, descended as much from British folk icons like Bert Jansch and Davy Graham as from American avant-gardists like John Fahey and Robbie Basho. But what sets Post-Empire apart from its predecessor is the newfound urgency to his lyrics and his singing, the increasing dissonance in his harmonic sensibility, and the dark, dense, and hovering presence of the string section.
This is not exactly a folk record in the classic sense, and Stratton tries to disavow the current folk movement, but at its heart, for all its high-minded aspirations, Post-Empire runs with the mercurial American folk tradition. While some music writers may talk themselves hoarse about the dueling narratives of hype and authenticity these days, there will always be artists quietly making music impervious to buzz, telling real stories of decline, romance, hope, regret, and renewal.
Written, performed and arranged by Will Stratton
Amelia Meath: Vocals
Maia Friedman: Vocals
Heather Sommerlad: Violin
Cori Tolda: Viola
Adele Mori: Cello
Recorded at Rare Book Room with Nicolas Vernhes in Greenpoint, Brooklyn
and in Will's apartment in Red Hook, Brooklyn
Mixed by Will Stratton
Mastered by Paul Gold at Salt Mastering
Cover art by Jared Ragland