Elusive as ever, I recently heard word from the man behind Brittsommar, and he has news of an upcoming EP. Sawyer Gebauer isn’t the chattiest of musicians, but he always pops up with an email to let me know what’s new on his end. Whether this is pure publicity or politeness I don’t know, but considering I’m a huge fan of his work, I don’t really care.
The Mary Me EP won’t emerge until later this month, but Gebauer has carefully curated a siphon of teasers leading up to it. There’s the trailer to the upcoming Brittsommar: Smoke, Mirrors, Shadows Documentary (which out-eludes Gebauer’s ever-elusiveness), as well as a steady trickle of singles. What we have to enjoy at the moment is the video for the dreamy dark-folk ballad “North Country Blood.”
As with all of Gebauer’s work thus far, the video is seamlessly in line with the sonic imagery conjured by the song itself. Without losing his voice as a storyteller, Gebauer is growing more into his origins as well as his own era. While his persona as the seasoned troubadour of yore remains, he appears to be more accepting of the present day. This may not be evident in the first third of the video, which finds two characters in a colorless world of wheat fields and barely furnished dwellings. But before long we are in a speeding car, transported across grainy but contemporary footage of Los Angeles, complete with hotels, traffic lights, and billboards for American Crime. There’s no hiding that it’s the twenty-first century in this video.
There is a definite level of tension throughout “North Country Blood” – the gray and sepia world of broken boiled eggs and creaking shanties vs. the pastel washed, palm tree-lined highways of Los Angeles. The same could be said of the auditory landscape Gebauer is painting. To start we hear a brighter side of Brittsommar, sunny and spangled with tinny fingerpicking, only to be cloaked with a rolling swell of strings and marching snare. The vocals are haunting as ever, rumbling and ominous. The voice strings us along lengths of tree-lined river, and to the edge of the woods where our characters embrace in the final frame.
These images are not entirely narrative, but give you an abstract sense of beginning, middle, and end. There’s a tugging sense of dread: the bane of something unresolved throughout the video. The contrast of stillness and motion is interesting here, the former highlighting simple rituals such as an amateur haircut and a shared cigarette, while the latter depicts no human subjects, only the passing of trees. It’s a semi-bleak world, but one who’s pleasures are simple and achievable.
Check out the video for “North Country Blood” below and be sure to keep an eye out for word on the upcoming Mary Me EP.