Released: 11th February 2022
Big Thief have never been ones to do things by halves. In 2019, they released not one but two critically-acclaimed albums. Then they all went off and did their own solo projects. And now they’re back with a 20-track, hour and a half long bumper album.
With a name as wieldy as its runtime, ‘Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You’ justifies both. Their fifth album, it’s beautifully mystifying and packed with ideas. A band in an indescribable zone feeling things out together, they’re not looking for anything in particular; a sound, a vibe, or an emotion. They’re just hoping you’ll come along for the ride.
Recorded over four sessions in four different parts of the US with four different engineers makes ‘Dragon New…’ feel like four different albums, but that’s in no way to the detriment of the whole. The album seems to pick from every version of Big Thief that exists: a Best Of… compilation made of entirely new songs, building a more complete picture of who this band is. At times raw and immediate, at others quiet and considered; raucous, roadhouse fiddle and guitar amp fuzz sit neatly alongside simple acoustic ballads.
There’s their heart-wrenching side present in ‘Sparrow’ and ‘Promise Is A Pendulum’. The folk-rock-with-a-twist bangers in the likes of the incredible ‘Time Escaping’. With the help of Mat Davidson, they even lean all the way into their bluegrass and country influences in ‘Spud Infinity’ and ‘Red Moon. But it’s all handled deftly with their usual surreal and intimate touch.
Flight has always been a big part of Big Thief’s lyrics. From ‘Capacity’ to ‘Sparrow’, it’s always been a search for freedom and escape. ‘Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You’ is all about that freedom. Freedom to experiment and see where the sound takes you rather than dictating it yourself. While their usual tightness and focus have had to be sacrificed, the end result is an altogether more unpredictable and exciting beast. A rewarding adventure worth its runtime.