By Kinsey Heath
Heather Woods Broderick has the soul of the wistful kind and she beautifully displays that on her newest release Glider. Glider is a strikingly cultivated album with a sound that washes over you with melancholic waves and piercing despondence.
It has been six years since Broderick’s last solo release, From the Ground, but she has reentered the scene with a less precious sound and has substituted it for a steady, reverb-driven dream-pop tone. Broderick has been on the road as a touring musician with Sharon Van Etten for nearly three years now, but that has not stifled her ability to construct powerful movements. You can easily uncover the markings of a traveler in Glider. Her lifestyle parallels with the album in the way that Broderick’s songs are coated with a longing for reconnection with personal relationships that may have not been watered for some time.
Broderick asks the questions “Tell me when, tell me when will I see you? Steppin’ to the ground that surrounds you?" In this sense, Glider in a visual album. After listening to the first tracks, you ease into the album's theme of introspective insightfulness. Broderick has a knack for creating soundscapes that make you feel like you should be surrounded by nature, or looking out your window, indulging in the recollection of life’s past events.
Glider is a record that is struggling to find its destination. At times, the arrivals and the departures of the songs are vague, but you trust that Broderick will be taking you to a safe terminal. Whether the terminal is unknown or familiar, I’m still unsure of, but I do know that she's not taking me there in haste and I’m fine with this.
In reverb-heavy piano ballads like “Fall Hard” and “The Sentiments”, Broderick softly sings these lullabies but doesn’t necessarily alleviate you; instead scorches you with sadness and longing. In the track, “Up In The Pine” the strings work as backing vocals, clandestinely carrying the tune till the end. The track pulses gently and sends you traveling alongside the explorative sonic theme of the album. “Wyoming” and “All For A Love” are a nice change from her finger-plucking and voice effects and are easily the most favorable tracks off the album. They display a certain musical diversity that isn’t shown on other tracks.
Broderick has a quiet and subdued nature about her. Her vocals are almost that of a loud whisper and her floating harmonies create textured movements that are all-encompassing. However, her spirit on the record is allusive. She seems to be running from something, but not out of fear, but simply because running is an option. Yet she does it in a way that is mystifying and perplexing, and she doesn’t seem care if you’re following or not.
Glider is an album that is more understandable when it ripens with gradual listens. However, at times the songs don’t seem to take off. Unfortunately, this happens often on the album, but that’s easily forgettable when you are so enraptured with trying to catch the spirit of Broderick.
I had the pleasure of seeing Broderick live a few short months ago, and in my review I mentioned that I think she is on the cusp of something that is not quite conceivable yet. I firmly stick by that statement. As cliché as it sounds, I think she hasn’t fully scratched the surface of what she is capable of. The musicianship is there, the spirit is there, and my hopes are that Broderick peacefully arrives to the destination she has been searching for.