Album Review: Mary Knoblock – Halo

Portland artist and composer Mary Knoblock showcases her ethereal and avant garde allure on her cinematic new album Halo

Portland artist and composer Mary Knoblock showcases her ethereal and avant garde allure on her cinematic new album Halo

Boasting a beguiling and enchanting dream pop sound that feels as captivating as anything you’re likely to hear soon, Mary Knoblock is an artist who have this aura and atmosphere that surrounds her work and makes it feel almost transcendent in its beauty and its charm. Incredibly produced and delicately arranged, this sense of composure and allure can be found all over the artist’s new album Halo, a stunning collection of tracks that hooks you from the moment it starts and continues as it swirls and expands throughout.

The album opens with the titular ‘Halo’, an enigmatic and almost glacial feeling track that washes over you gradually, taking on a slow-burning and incredibly ethereal feel throughout, gracefully and deliberately holding your attention thanks to its subtle sonic quirks and the aritst’s one-of-a-kind appeal. The track immediately lets you know that you’re in for a unique listening experience unlike anything you’ve heard before.

The poignant ‘Heaven’s Bride’ follows, a track performed live by the artist, a decision that pours every ounce of emotion out of a narrative that is made to pull on heart-strings and immerse you even further into the artist’s unique sonic world. The exploration of the story of a love amidst ongoing war is one that feels all too relevant in the modern landscape of the world, and the gentle embrace of the sound and the gentle nature of the artist’s delivery helps bring it to life in memorable fashion.

The real beauty of the album lies in how each track works either as part of the collective or as stand-alone works of art in their own right, with the stirring ‘Chrome’ serving as the latest example of that, laced in enchanting melodies and a soft, driving rhythm that accompanies a narrative exploring nostalgic trip to a mansion frozen in a perfect sliver of time.

The acoustic nature of ‘Dance Card June’ allows it to stand out among a collection of tracks awash with all-encompassing sounds and textures, and brings out a more uninhibited and natural beauty in the artist’s sound and vocals that adds even more layers of intrigue and appeal to the album as a whole. The track itself serves as a time-traveling love poem set in the 1940s, and this more stripped-back sound does a great job of mirroring the tone and feel of its story.

The track is follow by ‘Oh Most Beautiful Flower of Carmel’, an engrossing place of solace that continues to encapsulate the transfixing beauty of the artist’s uniquely poised sound, evoking the kind of feeling spiritual awakening and catharsis that the album as a whole does so impactfully and well.

‘Today’ and ‘Lucky’ a two tracks that have more of a longing and searching feel to them, using the poignant tone of the artist’s sound to delve into themes like loss and fighting for life following near death experiences. These tracks showcase the range of how the artist can use her unique sound, manipulating it to embody either euphoria or sorrow while holding onto the core feel of it that works so well.

Following some avant garde reimagining of some of the album’s tracks and the atmospheric ‘The Wanderer’, the album closes with one of its most memorable moments and biggest highlights in the form of ‘Dreamer’, a ballad that serves as an ode to the artist’s fans that dreams of an afterlife that is filled with harmony and love, encapsulating the overarching theme of the album and tying everything together in potent fashion.

The track does a really great job of highlight what the enigmatic artist and her sound are all about, packed full of searching melodies, atmospheric tension and an ethereal, unique glow that feels enchanting and all-encompassing all at once. Halo feels like more of an experience than an album, an auditory journey through this realm and beyond that is packed full of love, loss, hope and perseverance, and one that is a statement of Mary Knoblock and her expansive and cinematic allure.