A somberly sweet reflection on separation
Candid and calm, though with contentedness in question, Mount Eerie follows 2008’s Lost Wisdom with 2019’s Lost Wisdom Pt. 2. Despite the 11 years and many albums that separate the two halves of the collaboration with musician Julie Doiron of Eric’s Trip and Broken Girl, Phil Elverum leads one to feel as if that time had stood still. Notably sourcing his songwriting material from his own personal life’s events and the often profound questions that ensue, Elverum follows suit on Lost Wisdom Pt. 2. The two albums that precede his most recent release reflect on the death of his wife, Genevieve Castrée, who passed away after being diagnosed with cancer. Lost Wisdom Pt. 2 offers a different meditation—one on his separation from his second wife, Michelle Williams, after Castrée’s passing.
The album is composed of eight tracks that are each characterized by transparent recollections on Elverum’s behalf and hollow harmonies provided by Doiron’s support. His raw and detailed, speech-like lyrics deliver most of Mount Eerie’s emotional impact while they flow continuously over the still strumming of acoustic guitar. Those expecting the many instrumental intricacies and textural variations that have often previously accompanied Elverum’s vocals on previous works under both the Mount Eerie and Microphones monikers may be disappointed. Though the signature of Elverum’s work, the beauty of Lost Wisdom Pt. 2 doesn’t lie in those elements. Rather, he makes up for it with a sweet simplicity and an outpouring of honest and intimate lyrics that will very likely keep one entranced until hearing the very last word that punctuates the album.
“Belief,” the opening track, tells of fighting “through a hideous mish-mash of inheritance” and “Widows,” one of the more strikingly dynamic tracks, offers raw disclosure that “me and the other widows will commiserate alone at Montessori again,” before breaking into an unexpected flurry of crashing cymbals and commanding electric guitar. Writing with such transparency, Elverum leaves one to feel almost as if implicit boundaries are being overstepped upon listening. A clear standout track, “Love Without Possession,” glitters with all the best aspects of the album, and confirms once again, that the collaboration between Doiron and Elverum is one that listeners could certainly do with more of. Doiron’s serene vocal harmonies add an alluring depth that becomes unexpectedly bolstered by a warm, humming accordion and a steadily pulsing snare drum that fit snugly together like the most perfect of puzzle pieces.
Lost Wisdom Pt. 2 is deeply personal, which at this point, one could expect of Elverum. Though centered around his separation from his wife, the album is much more than a saddening retelling. It isn’t a collection of disheartening conclusions, but a reflection on a period that was marked by a myriad of different feelings that ultimately ends on a considerably hopeful truth—on “Belief Pt. 2,” Elverum sings, “I believed in love and I still do/ I’m not going to seal up my heart, I still do.”