Heather Woods Broderick – ‘From the Ground’

November 27, 2009 § Leave a comment

Published: The Big Issue #343, November/December 2009.

From the Ground
Heather Woods Broderick

It may creep and echo, whisper and lilt, but From the Ground is a nonetheless prominent achievement from Portland, Oregon singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Heather Woods Broderick. The further it unfolds, the more this ostensibly skeletal folk-pop outing changes its spots.

Drawing on a clutch of fragile instrumentation (piano, guitar, celeste, flute, mandolin, glockenspiel and breath-like field recordings), not to mention the production smarts of Broderick’s brother and collaborator Peter, this record assumes shifting atmospheres, tonality and textures as much as it does traditional folk tropes. There’s a resonance and attention to production detail in vignettes like ‘Misty’ – with its processed cello and glittering, backlit vocal tones – that takes this record in far more evocative, almost cinematic directions.

The yearning strings of ‘Back Room’ and the glacial piano of ‘Left’ distil atmosphere, presence and place; ‘Cottonwood Bay’ is a stunning reflection on childhood, memory and connection to landscape.

Broderick’s voice is something of rare gift on its own. Luckily for us, her compositional vision has allowed for a record that will grow and complicate with every listen. From the Ground may be quiet and fleeting, but its shadow will remain.

Dan Rule


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