Following her band Big Thief's second LP, Capacity, by a little over a year, 2018's Abysskiss is Adrianne Lenker's second solo album for Saddle Creek since joining their roster in 2014. It stylizes its title and track names in lower-case lettering, an appropriate signal of the intimacy to come on an album that speaks softly but with emotional potency. It was recorded in a week with producer Luke Temple (Here We Go Magic, Art Feynman), much of whose solo music could be described the same way. Though Temple also performs on the album, his presence is easily overlooked here given the spare, engrossing nature of Lenker's songs. Opening track "Terminal Paradise" sets the stage with acoustic guitar, piano, a minor key, and the singer's hushed wail as she anticipates, in the first-person voice, the transformation from death to a blossoming flower. Not all the tracks are quite as heavy -- Lenker has explained that some of the songs were years in the making and others were written in the days leading up to the recording session. The album introduces electric guitar on its fourth track, the relatively extroverted "Out of Your Mind." Elsewhere, "Cradle" is a haunted lullaby with dampened piano, arpeggiated guitar, and hummed backing vocals, and "From" attaches special meaning to certain words with subtle changes in chords and harmonic voicing. Across the record, Lenker covers big emotions and small moments, noticing horse tails, eyelashes, and silences. The immediacy of the performances has the effect of eavesdropping on a late-night living room lament.
AllMusic Review by Marcy Donelson