Mount Eerie's harrowing 2017 album, A Crow Looked at Me, was written in the aftermath of the death of songwriter Phil Elverum's wife Geneviève, and it was steeped in the grief of a man who was struggling to carry on from moment to moment. Given that Now Only follows less than a year later, it understandably deals with the same subject matter, although his perspective has evolved.
Here, the songs seem to come from a different stage in the grief process, as Elverum has turned his gaze outward: he's still singing about his wife, but he's also musing on the world at large, reflecting on memories of his early life, and offering meta-referential accounts of performing his self-described "death songs" on tour.
There are only six tracks here, but they cover massive lyrical ground. Most of the words have little poetic cadence, and instead come tumbling out of Elverum's mouth in a stream of sing-speak that is rarely tethered to a fixed melody. Combined with spare arrangements that highlight hypnotic acoustic strums, moody keys and even a some fuzz-drenched rock-outs, the result is an emotionally nuanced meditation on death that is both heartbreaking and hopeful. (PW Elverum & Sun)