BEST OF 2014: 28. Linda Perhacs – The Soul Of All Natural Things

Forty-four years on from her debut, American dental hygenist Linda Perhacs returned to the racks, reinvigorated by a slow but steady rise in interest in that 1970 release, ‘Parallelograms‘. The record’s psychedelic folk found a new audience in the everything-anytime 21st century web culture, and it had a lavish vinyl reissue to accompany this new set. Now in her seventies, but still capable of making timeless music, her second release is a pretty magical listen.

28 Perhacs

At times, ‘The Soul Of All Natural Things‘ sounds like it’s being beamed in from the same sessions that produced ‘Parallelograms‘, a certain gentleness emitted from simple, beautiful songs. But there is plenty more going on here, not least on ‘Immunity‘ which builds into a crisp, near electro-folk belter. The guitar could be Radiohead, the drums wouldn’t be out of place on the latest Wildbirds and Peacedrums and the layers of vocals call to mind Julia Holter. This last comparison is not especially surprising as not only is she a huge fan of Perhacs’ tiny catalogue but she also collaborates with her on this record. ‘River Of God‘ opens in a way that wouldn’t be out of place on Holter’s sublime 2013 offering ‘Loud City Song‘ and if that record tickled you as much as it tickled me, then this is another one to add to your collection.

Having released no music in over four decades, these songs seem to traverse the tastes, styles and sounds of those missed years. For all the frantic modernity of ‘Immunity‘ and the similarly fizzy ‘Intensity‘, there are moments like ‘When Things Are True Again‘ which evoke a sense of early Eighties drum machine-assisted ethereal ballads and album closer ‘Song Of The Planets‘, which sounds like soothing balm for blissed out early 90s ravers, all ambient tones and looped vocals before a spoken word conclusion by artist and producer Chris Price hypnotically concludes proceedings. It’s a heady mix which rewards repeat visits.

On the surface, starting with the cover, ‘The Soul Of All Natural Things‘, appears to possess an almost innocent charm, backed up by a feel-good story. However, to belittle it with banal good will and a few background listens would be criminal. Perhaps as a result of the enormous enthusiasm and reverence of those working with her, perhaps simply as a continuation of the remarkable talent shown on that debut, this album sustains a very high sense of quality control. The melodies, with their occasional sideways twists, bed in and linger. Perhacs’ voice carries like the hopeful glint of light through brooding skies. It’s a curious, but fascinating album that deserves to be noticed.

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