I chanced across this song this morning on WFMU. It’s not the sort of song I think people would associate with me and it’s not the sort of song I would usually recommend. It’s folky and formal, pretty and well mannered. I think there’s something about hearing something on the radio instead of self curating that made hearing it in the car seem lyrical and noteworthy.
The DJ said the singer, Tiny Ruins, was from New Zealand. The fingerpicking and the hesitant melody reminded me of Nick Drake, only with a girl voice echoing Joan Baez or Joni Mitchell maybe. The lyrics seemed like a little bit of a scold. I could have googled to find out more, but I like only knowing what I know from hearing it on the radio. I thought maybe it was an oblique kiss off to a middle of the road monster like David Brooks or his New Zealand equivalent.
There’s a distant, haunted quality to the song. Usually I can’t handle this kind of ornate beauty, but it’s spiced with just enough bitterness and abstraction sneak into my sweet spot. I would love to see it played over the opening credits of a movie.
The version in the video isn’t the version I heard. She explains that it’s missing instruments that provided it with more stateliness. I like the version in the video because she seems like good people.
UPDATE: I started following Tiny Ruins on Twitter. Evidently her whole album is streaming on the New York Times‘ website. So it’s an interesting coincidence that I invoked Times columnist David Brooks above.