A touring and studio musician who has been a longtime member of Sharon Van Etten's band among her other indie folk-minded collaborations, Heather Woods Broderick stepped out on her own in 2009 with the acoustic album From the Ground. She went on to expand her sound with atmospheric electronics on 2015's Glider and continues to fortify textures on her third solo LP, Invitation. It takes its title from a Thomas Moore quote about being open to experiences and change. That type of literary inspiration is apt for a meditative set of songs that look to nature, childhood summers spent along the Oregon coast, and reflection itself for subject matter. The album opens with warped, dewdrop piano effects and fingerpicked acoustic guitar on the somber "A Stilling Wind." Broderick's soft voice seems the perfect accompaniment to these gentle tones but holds up to an expanding arrangement that adds lush strings and light percussion including hand drums. The songwriter traveled from Brooklyn to Pacific City, Oregon, to write the album, taking work cleaning houses between writing sessions at the piano. Most of the songs after the opener are piano-based, though delicate textures remain. "White Tail" begins with the sound of crickets and rhythmic percussion before a knottier arrangement including repeated piano chords and polyrhythms develops. Meanwhile, Broderick sings of "a tangled place, it is not gentle" on the song that recalls episodes of depression. "Nightcrawler" has a jauntier piano rhythm and lilting vocal melody, with atmosphere provided by pedal steel. On other tracks, synth-bass drone, electric guitar effects, flute, and nature recordings are among select components. Despite its overall dreamy, soft-spoken approach, Invitation is often weighty, full of thought and longing as well as moments of wonder. It's an affecting mix, one that lingers and withstands repeat listens.
AllMusic Review by Marcy Donelson