Let’s talk about Heidi Spencer’s voice. It’s a voice like a waking dream: sleepy-eyed but lucid, lost in the wilderness but always in control. Over the course of four albums and more than 10 years, it’s a voice that has slowly eased into itself and revealed new contradictions with each passing song. Sultry and hushed one moment, hoarse and vulnerable the next, Spencer’s voice is cinematic in the best sense of the word. Her background as a filmmaker makes that comparison a bit too easy, but it’s still apt. Sepia-toned and scratched, Spencer’s voice is a physical artifact in a world that’s continually running out of them.
Let’s talk about Heidi Spencer’s band, the Rare Birds. On second thought, let’s not do that, exactly, as the Rare Birds are inseparable from Spencer herself. Jesse Thayer (piano, harmony), Allen Cote (guitars), Dave Gelting (contrabass), and Bill Curtis (percussion) all add needed, elemental color and texture to Spencer’s songs, and give her voice just the right amount of breathing room. Thayer’s tasteful touch on keys, in particular, adds a twinkle to songs that subtly veer from wistful and sad to hopeful and bemused. It’s a band as an extension of the artist, and another haunting voice in a group already in possession of one.
Let’s talk about Heidi Spencer And The Rare Birds’ new album, Things I Remember Golden. It’s the follow-up to the gorgeously rendered 2011 record, Under Streetlight Glow, and it’s a stunner. From the bleary waltz of opener “Solar Lights And The Shining” to the cathartic country clip of closer “Standing Next To A Diamond,” Things I Remember Golden is a lovely record as intimate and unafraid as anything Spencer has done. Listen to the album’s first two tracks, “Solar Lights And The Shining” and “Chasing Stars,” and watch a Spencer-directed video for a third track, “Paper Boats” below, only at Milwaukee Record.