Hypnagogue Music Reviews

Genevieve Walker, Walking Home

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Here is an album I have been loving from the first listen, taken in completely by its rustic charm, calming voice, and heartwarming honesty. Genevieve Walker plays violin, viola, guitar, piano, banjo, and glockenspiel on Walking Home, working threads of folk, bluegrass, and chamber music into these tapestries, their own unique colors adding to the blend.  Walker notes that these pieces take their initial cues from simple sounds, from the swish of a broom to, charmingly, the beating of her son’s heart. From what I can hear they’re not used overtly—if they exist as more than inspiration—but however she chooses to translate them into the music, it works. The violin is the star of the show, however, whether it’s singing in lilting trills or sighing across the strings to draw out long, melancholic lines. Her playing is fluid and heartfelt, reaching out to create a real, direct connection to the listener. The album begins with the casual stride of the title track, lead on the road by acoustic guitar and given sure feet by the low weight of Rebecca Foon’s cello. Pizzicato notes give it a little extra joy (which they also bring to “Cicadas And Light”). “Embryonic Voyage,” the song with its basis in her son’s heartbeat, is of course one of the happiest, most vibrant pieces here. It dances along with an almost gypsy-like undertone, the heartbeat taken up by light hand percussion. Banjo adds more of that rustic smile to the sound. In her quieter moments, Walker mines deep for strong emotions. “Sweep” is slow and graceful, approaching minimalism in its bare construction. But every note speaks, ringing with something very true. “Falling” is where we hear the strongest sense of a chamber music influence, a small ensemble of strings playing a delicate interweave of lines and using the thoughtfulness of the pause to great effect.

This is an absolutely enchanting album, and you may be surprised, upon listening, to find that it only covers 40 minutes. Time just excuses itself and steps out of the room as Walker spins her scenes, this traveler’s voyage fully taking over your awareness. Beautifully played and more than happy to pull at your heartstrings and also tell you a story or two, it consistently reward you for giving it your ear. This debut album introduces us to a fantastic new voice in acoustic contemporary instrumental music, and I am very much looking forward to what comes next from Genevieve Walker.

Available at Bandcamp.

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