Still reeling from the gut-punch of the distortion filled lead single “Vale” released earlier this year, many of us wondered what a full-length LP by the Denver based artist would sound like. Using the dystopian fever-dream of the aforementioned Midwife collaboration as a noise floor, the 8 songs on Tender spiral upwards like worried smoke against a low cloud ceiling, reaching towards the light but always within sight of the loamy earth surface. Shepherding lush, heavy compositions by way of synths, keys, guitars and subtle percussion, Tender finds Allison Lorenzen at her most vulnerable. Nursing old wounds from the end of a relationship and her musical project School Dance, Tender is also filled a renewed sense of heartbreak-made-triumphant that comes after the wisdom of solitude, allowing oneself to be taken care of by family and friends and, finally, documenting the way through.
The way through figures heavily on Tender. Imagery of passages through liminal spaces are replete. “Vales” occur as emotional valleys as well as McCarthy-inspired end times, “Mirrors” are portals into deep self-reflection, “Tentacles” keep pulling us back into old patterns, old memories. Musically, this non-linear approach to healing is explored through songs that move from light to dark and back again, often within the same song, if not within the same phrase.
Lorenzen’s voice has an uncanny choral quality to it. Taking a phrase that would have sounded quite beautiful sung straight in her smoky, ephemeral delivery, Lorenzen frequently raises the stakes by taking a single word through several octave changes within the same breath. Treading similar musical paths to Beach House in her penchant for writing quiet, world-shifting crescendos, the nocturnal, Styx-guiding Dream Pop of Julee Cruise and the heavy, distortion filled guitars and world-weary vocals of Miserable and frequent Tender collaborator Midwife, Lorenzen’s work comes alive in its own cinematic universe.
Recorded in Colorado, Tender is Allison Lorenzen’s debut full length.