If you look back at your life’s traumatic turning points: the moments before you’re told someone close to you is dying or dead; the day before a car wreck, divorce or miscarriage– do you remember if you felt it? Was there an uneasy tremor in your heart or your gut? Did the world look funny? Did you know it was coming? KT Turnstall went through some heavy shit in 2012: the death of her father and of her marriage. These events were poetically bookended by recording sessions in Arizona, forming the two halves of Invisible Empire//Crescent Moon.
In KT’s opinion, her subconscious had the heads-up on what was to come, and that off-kilter feeling is audible in the very first A-side track. Indeed, “Invisible Empire” is one of the finer tracks of the collection, with a bit of the older, crisper pop style that Turnstall is known for. The tracks that follow are far more woebegone, dancing gently on the precipice of an engrossing sonic depression. Turnstall’s typical stomping, upbeat bite is apparently on hiatus for this chapter in her life, traded in for airy, stripped and simple instrumentation, with delicate graces of piano, accordion and rumbling percussion.
If you’re not down with something more lyrically focused and introspective, it’s time to take a hike. Although there is a reflective turning point between the Empire and the Moon, the somber feeling only increases as the record goes on, ending on the mournful gypsy jam “No Better Shoulder.” KT doesn’t believe it’s a sad album, according to her website: “melancholic is probably quite a good description of it,” she says. However, if you’ve got that foreboding feeling in your stomach, maybe wait awhile before you take a listen; all that melancholy ain’t fit to settle your nerves.