A resident of rural Appalachia, guitarist and singer Sarah Louise is a friend to the earth, forming a deep bond with it by her “earth practices” of collecting mushrooms and living respectfully within nature’s bounty. Her music also embodies the rhythms of nature, employing repetition and wind instruments to mimic its sounds. Everything is a blend, everything breathes together and is individual and collective at once.
Earth Bow is split into two sections, or “Suites” on Side A and Side B of the LP release, each of which is around 18 minutes long. The start of suite one, “Where the Owl Hums,” has an almost Enya-like new age tone to it. There is a shimmering use of electric sounds and space-like atmospheric effects and enchanted bells tolling. Guitar is also present, but it’s minimal, repetitious, and masterfully woven into the composition. Each layer is methodical and mesmerizing. On top of it all, Louise sings in a warbling voice that flits in and out like the birds she no doubt enjoys watching on sunny days.
Each track launches into the next with a slight break—a breath, really. Sarah Louise breathes just before continuing, like any accomplished singer. “She’s got freedom in her chest,” she sings on the album, and she allows nothing hasty to dissipate her set rhythms, her constant inhalation, exhalation of song and instruments. Earth Bow takes its time, moving naturally and fluidly.
At the end of the first suite, we hear “Earth Wakes Up” which is almost child-like, as if it is out of a book of nursery rhymes (“big old frog singing in the pond”). This form of musical simplicity is meant to express the idea of nature as primitive (though that’s not to say it is impoverished or unsophisticated in any sense). This style works well, allowing Louise to blend different instruments and, notably, different sounds together in interesting and unique ways. She not only copies the natural cadences and noises of nature but adds her own to its patchwork quilt.
After 19 minutes, we arrive at the next suite, wherein Louise’s calls “to build a pond for frogs” are like spells whispered on the wind, sown into the fabric of the earth with loving hands. As with the first, suite two covers similar ground, using guitar and electronic sounds to communicate Louise’s perception of the earth.
Earth Bow is a sonic portrait of a singer listening to and singing to the world around her. It is meditative, but it is also a call to look around and see the rocks and frogs and ponds and owls. Sarah Louise delves into old territory and new territory, knitting something special. Her songs are spiritual and flow with a natural, breathable quality. Earth Bow shows how everything was once connected: how humans used flutes (first made from bones) to mimic the sound of wind. It relays a woman’s journey with the earth and allow us to also journey alongside her and see what she sees.
Born in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, Konstantin Nicholas Rega currently attends East Anglia's famous MA in Creative Writing with the Ink, Sweat and Tears Scholarship. He is a professional musician, the former host/producer of Jazz Jams on CSRfm 97.4, and twice a Dan Veach Prize for Younger Poets finalist. He is the Fiction Editor for Crack the Spine and a contributor to The Black Lion Journal. He also blogs.