Cinder Well is at the vanguard of a different kind of transatlantic folk revival, one forged amidst the uncertainty of a global pandemic. However, Irish-based songwriter Amelia Baker’s music isn’t nihilistic; instead, it strips traditional forms to their bones, creating a meditative, trance-like space for sonic healing. The sparse soundscapes and haunting stillnesses of her new album No Summer (Free Dirt Records) are not meant to be paens to loneliness. Rather, Baker was inspired by the rich musical connectivity of the pub scene in Ireland, and her move from California to County Clare to study traditional music of the region. A member of anarchist folk project Blackbird Raum, Baker’s time on the circuit with Irish trad-punk group Lankum eventually led her to a small settlement in County Clare, and to the rich dissonance of her music as Cinder Well, a dissonance caught between worlds and histories.
Recorded by Nich Wilbur (Black Belt Eagle Scout, Angel Olsen), the original songs on No Summer boldly rub shoulders with careful reworkings of traditional Appalachian sources. Baker’s songs parse these transatlantic traditions, and throughout, her remarkable voice cuts to the bone like some ghostly ballad singer bound to sing these words from here to eternity. From the eerily prophetic title track—which presaged a season of canceled shows—to “Our Lady’s”’s imagined stories of spectral abandoned asylum residents, No Summer is as haunting as it is connected, as dark as it is sacred, a kind of ritual healing that’s existed through the ages.
No Summer was featured no.5 in The Guardian's Top 10 Folk Albums of 2020.