“Sweet brother moonchild / We’d talk til all hours / You told me about that time that you had all the power / You brought the sunlight / The rain brought the flowers,” Sidney Lindner sings of his late brother on the opening of the first album from himself with his Wilderness Collective. His haunting baritone, that rivals the likes of Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen, sets the tone for what turns out to be an ethereal set of songs.
It’s no surprise that this record feels so hauntingly heavy with history given it was recorded in an old New Hampshire church. Lindner’s lifelong friend, Michael Yorgensen, fulfilled his dream of recording in a church by producing the album in the rented building while using his own equipment. Recorded over two different visits to the church-come-studio (one in summer and one in autumn), it was originally intended to be two separate records, but when listening to the mixes, Lindner realised it had become something of a concept record, with the character of “The Lightning Kid” appearing throughout.
While his voice is the most immediately striking and resonant aspect of the album, the lush rich strings work beautifully in tandem with it to create an otherworldly atmosphere. This is evident nowhere more than on the second (and standout) track ‘$t Ignatius’: “My goodness gracious / My sweet my faithless / Which one are you? / My sweet my starling / My goodness darling / Do this for me,” he purrs against the rich musical backdrop.
“Mother loves her demon son / Never worry even once / That’s the love that loves too much / Spoken in the mother tongue,” Lindner tells us in ‘Mother’s Tongue’, a track that offers up a more classic folk sound while still in keeping with the stirring fragility of the album. The song ‘Lightning Kid’, whose protagonist became a theme throughout the album, is lyrically sparse but still effective: “Little one / Where you running to? / What you gonna do?” Lindner repeats with eery beauty.
‘Aurora’ is the first of two songs that come closest to being love songs: “I’ll meet you anywhere / Western sun meets the air / I always think of you / When I hear that song.” The second, ‘You & Me Kid’, is sweet in its innocence: “If nothing comes of this / And we both get lost / Always remember / Your racing heart / The way it starts.”
‘Who Are You When No One’s Looking’ is a weighty track that makes for an ideal album closer. “Here comes my reward for lying / This is what I get for being so cold / This is who I am everyone / This is who I am when no one’s looking,” Lindner castigates himself before the music fades away.
This is not Lindner’s first project, having previously released music as part of The Hotel Alexis and Torrez; but sprawling and grand in scale, it surely counts as his best.