Somewhat stealthily, Kris Delmhorst has become one of those artists of whom any news of a new release is guaranteed to raise one’s pulse. Long Day In The Milky Way, her eighth release, does not disappoint as she leads the listener through 12 songs of captivating beauty. With most of the songs written at a songwriters’ retreat, Delmhorst worked in particular with a trio of gifted female singers (Rose Polenzani, Rose Cousins and Annie Lynch) and their glorious and ethereal harmonies cosset Delmhorst’s laidback delivery throughout the album. Surrounding them is a fine ensemble of musicians, a pocket folk orchestra if you like, adding gentle layers of sound, muted guitars and keyboards over a supple rythym section and strings.
The result is an album which washes over the listener, leaving a fine glow. There’s a luminosity in songs such as Wind’s Gonna Find A Way, Nothing ‘Bout Nothing and Flower Of Forgiveness which, like a moth to a flame, are somewhat irresistible. A cover of Rickie Lee Jones’ (one of Delmhorst’s guiding lights) The Horses, adds a bit more heft in its slight propulsion with the band moving up a gear and they then turn the dial up a little bit further on the sly mix of funk and strings of Secret Girl. Crow Flies has a slight touch of Joni Mitchell’s Hejira in its arrangement while Golden Crown, which opens with a mesmerising keyboard motif and elaborate choralising has roots in Malian music. Harking back to her own folk roots, Delmhorst enlists her infant daughter as a co-writer on the comforting Bless Your Little Heart, inspired by the pair of them listening to a Michael Hurley song and the album ends with a song which Delmhorst describes as a letter to herself on Call Off The Dogs. It’s another gem of a song with rippling strings and perfect harmonies and, as with all the songs here, Delmhorst manages to connect her inner world, the wonders of nature and the eternal mystery of how to live one’s life and gather them all together into one all encompassing message. Essentially, Long Day In The Milky Way, is a glorious creation.