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Big Thief, 'Masterpiece': A Band Bound By Great Songs

Big Thief is a band bound by great songs. Its first album opens with singer Adrianne Lenker on acoustic guitar, recorded on what sounds like an old cassette machine. By the second song, you hear the blossoming of an artist into a band, a community, a force.

Big Thief sounds warm and muscular, with moments that comfort and explode nestled closely together. "Masterpiece" was the first music I heard from the group, and it's one of the best songs I've heard this year. Lenker's quivering voice is emboldened and frail, while the bass (Max Oleartchik), guitar (Buck Meek) and most powerfully the drums (Jason Burger) detonate and punctuate those words.

Big Thief, <em>Masterpiece</em>
/ Courtesy of the artist
Courtesy of the artist
Big Thief, Masterpiece

"'Cause I saw the masterpiece, she looks a lot like you

Wrapping your left arm around my right

Ready to walk me through the night."

In many moments on Big Thief's debut album, characters are pulled in time, through distances, on roads, through love and rain. It isn't a clear journey, but it always feels compassionate, with its humanity and melody front and center. There's always something solid to hold on to; like good friends, these songs don't let go. I like my music that way.

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In 1988, a determined Bob Boilen started showing up on NPR's doorstep every day, looking for a way to contribute his skills in music and broadcasting to the network. His persistence paid off, and within a few weeks he was hired, on a temporary basis, to work for All Things Considered. Less than a year later, Boilen was directing the show and continued to do so for the next 18 years.
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