Release Date: Mar 31, 2017
Record label: Constellation
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
It’s in some ways surprising to learn that A Common Truth, cellist Rebecca Foon’s second album as Saltland, is about climate change. Surprising not because the album lacks anything in darkness or dread—it carries both in abundance—but because it feels so personal, its atmosphere so cloistered and internal. For most, climate change is a concern kept at arm’s length, an abstract problem for some other time, some other place, some other person.
Saltland is the solo guise of Canadian cellist and composer Rebecca Foon; perhaps better known for her work with Esmerine and Thee Silver Mt Zion (with whom she parted ways in 2008). A Common Truth is the second Saltland album, this time benefitting from the myriad skills of Warren Ellis of Dirty Three and Bad Seeds fame. Aside from Ellis' contribution of loops, violin and pump organ, the lion's share of sounds originate with Foon and her cello, which appears in both processed and raw forms.
When loud, angry, "alternative facts" are consistently demonstrated to trump objectively known realities and threaten the very natural makeup of the world around you, gestures towards the very notion of truth begin to feel revolutionary. For Rebecca Foon, whose environmental and social activism is inseparable from her work as an artist (in ongoing and former musical projects Esmerine, Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra, the Mile End Ladies String Auxiliary and Fifths of Seven), that's enough to spur action and reflection.
A veteran of the post-rock and chamber music scenes of Canada, Rebecca Foon's career has taken a fascinating path. The cellist began what would become an ostensibly roving root through music with post-rock outfit Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra and later Set Fire To Flames. Eventually, she founded her own chamber-rock group Esmerine. But it seems to be as Saltland, her solo project, that she has found her voice.
Let's get the most important part out of the way before we start wittering on: Rebecca Foon's second album as Saltland is a bona fide stunner. Potentially one of the most beautiful records you'll hear this year. It makes sweet misery out of melody while articulating a forlorn yet rousing sense of hope. Yes, we're smitten, but with good reason.