There was an eleven year gap between Julie Doiron and Phil Elverum (Mount Eerie) Lost Wisdom albums. A whole mess of love, loss, births, and revivals have happened in the time span, with both artists finding their own paths in both personal and musical sense. Their converging back together for Lost Wisdom pt. 2 feel right and brings together elements of Elverum early writing with his more forthright, almost diary like song structure he has amassed and Doiron elegant voice rounding everything out. Last week the pair came by Thalia Hall for a magnificent concert that really highlighted just how affecting the Lost Wisdom albums are.
Julie Doiron started out the night with a solo set, delivering her tender folk songs with an ethereal touch. Standing alone on the darkened stage while the full seated floor marveled at her presence was quite a sight. Her set consisted of mostly requests, gently urging the crowd to shout out songs throughout the night. There were a few that she had to turn down, not really remembering how to play them or needing a band to fill it out. Nonetheless the crowd was met with some incredibly performances, with “When Brakes Get Wet” standing out pretty brightly in her set.
When it came time for Doiron to return alongside Phil Elverum, very little had changed. A few moved around and got drinks or merch from Elverum himself at the back of the venue, but for the most part everyone had been sitting in eager anticipation of the show. The duo emerged and dove straight into their set, focusing entirely on the songs of the Lost Wisdom albums.
It hard not lose yourself in Doiron and Elverum’s songs. They are incredibly light and gentle sounding, held together by lyrics full of grief and love. There is something utterly entrancing by the way the pair manages to gracefully deliver these tracks despite their deep and literal meaning to Elverum in particular. The stinging loneliness of “When I Walk Out of the Museum” rings true even as their voices intertwine with one another. “Widows” mourns loss after loss and their effects with such clarity that it’s impossible to not feel it in your bones.
These newer songs are as undeniably affecting as the earlier Lost Wisdom tracks. in tandem, Elverum current songwriting and life events have given those older songs a new dimension, catapulting them into his current life much harder than it initially seemed. “Who?” at one time felt like frustration over a breakup, now screams of depression over a death. The yearning for a change and reason to go on in “O My Heart” is not only sadder, but more important. Realizing just how closely connected the two Lost Wisdom project are only elevates them higher than they already were. Hearing Doiron and Elverum perform them with such grace and composure too transforms them into timeless works.
While the delicate music was the clear star of the set, the occasional banter between the pair on stage and the crowd was great. Elverum pointed out that he doesn’t really talk much between songs and that Doiron’s influence on this tour has brought it out of him. While he may feel it’s just rambling, it was a delight hearing him speak casually about his experiences on tour and beyond. The two mesh incredibly well together, delivering insights as interesting as their songs do.
While the past few Mount Eerie records are solemn affairs digging deep into his life after the loss of Elverum’s wife, the show somehow felt like a joyful experience. The catharsis of hearing these songs was real and as the night wound down, there seemed to be a relief that it wasn’t all tears and heavy feelings. Doiron and Elverum capped off the night with a pretty stunning rendition of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You”. It was as quiet and gentle as you’d expect, but hit home what the evening’s songs emphasized most: not matter what that love will always be around.