Music Reviews
Silver Ladders

Mary Lattimore Silver Ladders

(Ghostly International) Buy it from Insound Rating - 7/10

The beauty of Mary Lattimore’s harp is how expressive one instrument can be. Despite being backed by the occasional touch of synth or guitar, her weapon of choice sits firmly at the center of her new project, Silver Ladders, and helps prove that Lattimore is one of the most moving, broadly fascinating artists who is currently working. Following her last solo album in 2018, the resonate Hundreds of Days, Lattimore worked on collaborative records with Superchunk’s Mac McCaughan and Heron Oblivion’s Meg Baird while still finding time to drop experimental singles (the incredible Glamorous Mom springs to mind). Lattimore’s indie-rock friends seem to have influenced her latest full-length release, as it was produced with legendary Slowdive guitarist Neil Halstead. But thankfully, Halstead doesn’t change what’s already perfect. Silver Ladders errs on the side of what Lattimore does best, giving us forty minutes of ambient, refreshing, harp-based soundscapes. 

What’s interesting about Silver Ladders is that it rises above being background noise early, due to Lattimore’s masterful writing and arranging. Opener Pine Trees gives us contradicting, shimmering harp parts to start, and grows subtly more dense from there, before peaking with the droning synths and awkward keys that give the song some darker texture. Til a Mermaid Drags You Under feels both terrifying and haunting, with echoing strokes of bass and plucking strings moving in waves throughout the song’s ten-minute length. The joyful Chop on the Climbout distorts and decays stunningly, recalling the space launch of Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories closer Contact.

By the end of closer Thirsty Tulips, it should be no wonder that Mattimore is signed to Ghostly International, a traditionally electronic music label. She makes ambient music better than the music that most ambient musicians are putting out these days.