If Marielle Allschwang’s voice seems familiar, there’s a reason for that. For the past five years the Milwaukee musician has provided vocals—along with violin, guitar, and percussion—for some of the city’s best bands, including Group Of The Altos and Hello Death. That’s her, one voice among many squaring off near the end of Altos’ epic “Never Named”. That’s her again, floating above the yawning chasm that is Hello Death’s gorgeous “Settlers.” But there’s another reason Allschwang’s voice seems familiar: it’s a timeless instrument, full of sadness, beauty, and independence, rooted in the fertile ground of Americana but twisted into the wilding sky of the avant-garde. And on Allschwang’s upcoming solo debut, Dead Not Done, that voice finally gets a showcase all its own.
A few more things that may seem familiar: the songs on Dead Not Done themselves, which have been part of Allschwang’s solo shows for the past few years. The title track bears this lived-in assurance, opening with a gently cascading guitar line before adding a similarly cascading vocal. There are plenty of quiet and unexpected musical additions from there—drums, bowed bass, acoustic guitar—all of which compliment a melody that seems both ancient and alive. “Why is the dead not done?” Allschwang asks throughout the song, hinting that death may only be the beginning. It’s a question she answers herself with the sound of her voice: That’s her, calling out across the ages, just like the dead, just like history itself. Listen to it now, only at Milwaukee Record.
Dead Not Done will be released August 11 on Gloss Records. (Pre-order the cassette here.) A release show is scheduled for August 15 at Company Brewing, with Spirit Writing (Jon Mueller and Jaime Fennelly) playing in support.