By: Nathan Shaw
With the end of the decade, I found myself reflecting on the music that shaped my 2010’s. I scoured Spotify for saved albums, and one in particular jumped out at me as one that made me feel the most: A Crow Looked at Me. The LPwas single-handedly crafted by home-producer Phil Elverum, which is made apparent by its intense intimacy. A Crow Looked at Me documents Elverum’s struggle to live and support his infant daughter after the loss of his wife to pancreatic cancer. The multi-instrumentalist beautifully transcribes his pain in poetic lyrics, which find a perfect balance between complexity and simplicity. The effect is a powerful, yet easy to follow narrative filled with palpable and gut wrenching emotion, bearing all aspects of living with loss. Mount Eerie catalogues the momentous changes of losing a loved one, as well as minutiae details, like not wanting to close the windows or take out the trash. The album plays chronologically with tracks often featuring Elverum chillingly announcing how many days have passed since he’s been widowed. Adding more to the surrealism, Elverum forced himself to record in the room where his wife passed, using her instruments, a fact that infuses a haunting layer to Elverums monotone vocals. As the listener falls deeper into the track list, Elverum gains perspective on his loss, with his grief evolving from his immediate shock on Death is Real to his concern for his daughter on Crow, asking “what world are we leaving you?” As one builds a tolerance for deadly poisons through ingesting micro dosages, A Crow Looked at Me slowly enures the listener to life-altering grief by inviting them to step into the shoes of the people most affected by death: the ones left behind.