Photo provided by Noah Lenke

Photo provided by Noah Lenke

“Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You” is by no means approachable, but rewards anyone who picks it up

Dan Harrison




Genres: Folk, indie-rock, bluegrass(ish)

This is my morning album, which is to say that sometimes the world is a little too much right in the morning, which is to say that sometimes you need something to soften the edges. When this happens I almost always spin Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You, by Big Thief. 

Getting into this album took me a long time. It topped dozens of year-end lists, washed in acclaim and endless praise. I thought it was fine. Maybe a little long, like the title, but this is an album that wraps you up and refuses to let go.

I’m a fan of albums that have a heart, that slowly builds to some centerpiece (see my earlier reviews), but I’m an equal fan of albums that kick off hard and roll to the very end (see “Give ‘em Enough” rope, by The Clash). This album is neither, and I love it all the more. It never rushes, it never drags, it goes precisely at the right pace.  

Running an hour and twenty minutes, I would never describe Dragon New Warm Mountain as approachable. That being said – it rewards anyone who picks it up. Tune into the haunting and drawn-out “Sparrow,” and you’ll quickly find yourself lost in the loping drums of “Heavy Bend,” one of my favorite tracks. From this point, it’s not a long jump to the sparse “Dried Roses,” strings and all, and before long you’ve found “Simulation Swarm.” In between, you’ll relish the brilliant landscape that Big Thief has carved out for us. If you need an entry point, look for these tracks, the gateway drug to Dragon New Warm Mountain. 

Vocalist Adrianne Lenker might be one of the greatest folk songwriters of the past two decades. I texted this very thing to a friend, whose musical opinion I value more than most, and he replied “Yeah, obviously.” Her voice knows exactly where to go on a track, where to stay quiet, and where to be loud. She takes you by the hand and leads you into a song, showing you all the corners that will soon be your favorite shelter from the world. 

I won’t pick any lyrics out, in part because they’re all brilliant, but also in part because I want to leave you the joy of locking in on a phrase, a line, a word, and tucking it away in your heart. 

I guess what I’m really trying to say is that this is a morning album because it doesn’t ask anything of you. It gives itself up completely and waits for you in the most tender of moments. It stops the world outside and reminds us of all the beauty we hold closest. Most of all, it’s gorgeous, sprawling, and indulgent. So next time your alarm goes off and you aren’t quite ready for the bullshit of the world, keep your curtains drawn, grab a cup of coffee, and get lost in the wandering, beautiful corners of “Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You”.