Cross Record consists of Emily Cross and her husband, Dan Duszynski. Put these two absurdly creative individuals out on a ranch in Dripping Springs, TX after living in the buzzing metropolis Chicago for years and what you get is Wabi Sabi; a stirring example of highly contemplative and carefully crafted experimental folk music. The album balances minimalism with explosive bursts of sound for thirty-five minutes that seems to last much longer in its infinite depth.
The Curtains Part is the opening number on the record, and the band slowly eases you into their eclectic folk soundings. A storm of instrumentation wells up around Emily Cross’ central vocals, hollow guitar strumming, orchestral fluttering and cymbal fills encompass this peripheral storm, hinting at whats to come. The band begins to really sink their teeth into you on Two Rings, the instrumentation here playing on the quietness that they established in the first track and building upon this with their layers of both electronic and organic sounds.
Then you get to the gale-force strength trio of tracks that starts with Steady Waves, and Cross Record completely wins you over. While the first two tracks come across as a bit of an awakening for the duo, this middle portion of the album gives you a taste of their utter power and strength once theyve come to that awakening. First off, Steady Waves is an utterly gorgeous song, an example of the precise balance between softness and ferocity that Cross Record do so well on Wabi Sabi. Cross vocals are impossibly tender and lush, contrasted by the growling guitars that buzz in and out of the mix, while winding acoustic guitar simmers underneath. The number is at once serene and unsettling, building its way to a crescendo and then petering out to a quiet ending, akin to wind chimes gently stirred in the breeze.
Next up in the meat of the album is High Rise, which takes Cross vocals to an impossibly translucent level, their whispery quality floating atop the bombastic, exploding drums that give the song its drama and such a drama continues on Something Unseen Touches A Flower To My Forehead, which forsakes the gentleness of the previous two tracks and just hones in on the violence of the folk music.
The rest of the album falls under the quieter side of Cross Records spectrum of sound, though this is by no means boring or too subtle. On the contrary, I found myself constantly enamored with the entrancing simplicity that these two have harnessed into Wabi Sabi. Do yourself a favor and savor this album, as its bound to become one that you revisit over the coming year.