Mount Eerie - Now Only Album Review
“Raw” was one of the few adjectives used to label Mount Eerie’s 2017 album, A Crow Looked at Me, that felt appropriate. Phil Elverum, the singer/songwriter behind Mount Eerie, approached the passing of his wife, Geneviève Castrée, unfiltered and with a lack of pretension. It was one of the few albums of the last decade that acted as an untainted window into another person’s life, serving purely as an outlet for Elverum to process the passing of his wife. Now, in just under a year after A Crow Looked at Me’s release, Elverum has followed up with Now Only. It’s an album that approaches the subject matter of A Crow Looked at Me with a bit more mindfulness than the rawness of its predecessor and, in doing so, furthers itself even more from the metaphors and analogies that can deter a piece of art’s ability to offer a true portrait of a person’s life.
While the subject matter is shared between both albums, Now Only confidently stands as its own work. Where A Crow Looked at Me was written in the immediate aftermath of Castrée’s passing, Elverum has had time to more widely reflect and understand the effects of his wife’s passing on Now Only. There is still grief and sombreness threaded into the very fibers of this record, but now they are shifted away from the center stage they took on A Crow Looked at Me. Instead, Now Only is Elverum asking, “what comes next and, if anything, what is there to learn from this experience?”
The answers he finds here are some of the most deeply human to ever be put to music. Elverum fully shatters the notion that loss can lead to a deeper understanding of life. Elverum’s songs and introspection ultimately lead to the answer that no insight or perspective gained on life is comparable to the person whom he loved so intimately. There are a lot of profound connections and realizations had throughout Now Only, but nothing that Elverum ultimately feels is not inherently known through the human condition. The loss of a loved one just makes these truths about the human condition more present in his everyday life. The emotions these truth induce are something that he can begin to heal from with time, but never fully put out of his mind.
It’s this ultimate conclusion that makes Now Only feel in a league of its own compared to other albums of its time. Critics and fans can throw every accolade, award and accreditation onto this album for how visceral of an experience it is, as well as the way in which it conveys the emotions of its creator in a seemingly effortless way. But it was the result of a woman’s death that was the fault of nothing but an indifferent universe. It’s not something listeners can really herald as “an accomplishment” because to do so disrespects not just the memory and the value of the woman whose death led to its creation, but downplays the necessity humanity needs to express and process loss of a loved one.
Now Only is unlike any musical experience listeners are likely to have again soon. It’s not something a reviewer can necessarily critique solely as an artistic work, but rather it’s the encapsulation of a man coming to terms with his future after losing someone so important to him. It’s a touching, humanzing and reaffirming work in the memory of Geneviève Castrée and a testament to the power music has to help us process and question the mortality of ourselves and those we hold close.
Chandler Copenheaver is a senior majoring in public relations. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Senior / Public Relations