THE SALT, the sophomore album from Brooklyn's Prairie Empire is a moving, unexpected departure from their folky, self-titled debut. In the four years between albums, Brittain Ashford and her band developed a more sophisticated sound, one that expands beyond the four walls of the bedroom into cinematic terrain. Calm moments give way to fevered climaxes, strings and reeds humming as Ashford's mournful, whiskey-soaked alto floats above the chaos. Inspired by the quietude of Elliott Smith and the dynamism of Jeff Buckley, Ashford directs her melancholic vocals through lush, atmospheric arrangements, oscillating between grief and anticipation.
The album was mixed by Jacki Paolella at Tap Tap studios in Norfolk, Virginia and mastered by the Salt Mastering in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
The first Prairie Empire album was released on Trailer Fire Records and recorded (unknowingly) in a Portland living room with the band Harlowe. Prior to that Brittain recorded a handful of things in her bedroom under her own name, most notably There, But For You, Go I, which was released on Paris-based Waterhouse Records.
When not writing for Prairie Empire Brittain performs with Dave Malloy's Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, currently on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre. She's also appeared in Malloy's Ghost Quartet.
Nim Ben-Reuven is a freelance art director & graphic artist and is a hand-lettering badass.
The Salt, was released on Commodore Trotter Records on July 1.
Other useful, informative links:
Brittain Ashford, songwriter and singer of the chamber-folk band Prairie Empire, talks to Catster about a life rocking all things cat
A conversation with the musicians about their work and the return of their variety show, B-Cat & C-Town. Featuring two in-studio musical performances