As the core members of A Hawk and a Hacksaw, Heather Trost and her husband Jeremy Barnes have amassed a deeply eclectic catalog of globally minded experimental rock that leans heavily into Eastern European folk traditions, mariachi, Greek music, and a kitchen-sink's worth of other styles. Having moved into solo work with 2015's ambient instrumental cassette Ouroboros and the more psych-pop-leaning 2017 LP Agistri, Trost joined the Third Man Records roster to release her third outing, Petrichor. Recorded by Trost and Barnes in their New Mexico home studio, the seven-song album retreats even further from their Gypsy folk past, recasting Trost alternately as a cosmic psych traveler and a mercurial torch singer. Over lush autoharp arpeggios, fuzz bass, and galloping drums, her airy voice delivers a pastoral melody on standout "Love It Grows," setting an almost mystical tone echoed later in the expansive lull of the nearly nine-minute "VKO9." Her violin, one of the most prominent elements of her work in A Hawk and a Hacksaw and Beirut, takes on a support role here, often cloaked in strange effects and layered into subtle symphonic arrangements rather than folk fiddling. The lonesome "Tracks to Nowhere" makes a strong candidate for a showcase at the Bang Bang Bar, David Lynch's fictional Twin Peaks nightclub where this type of noir-ish pop fare often floats like a vapor, enchanting patrons into fits of mournful swaying. As on her previous album, Trost honors one of her apparent heroes by covering another Harry Nilsson song, this time taking a spacy crack at his 1971 classic "Jump Into the Fire." While the psychedelic arrangement and sizzling, distorted violin take it somewhere new, her soft, girlish vocals feel too at odds with the song's wild abandon. Sonically adventurous and rich with experimentation, Petrichor offers plenty to admire, even if the songwriting sometimes takes a backseat to the production.
by Timothy Monger