The Joys of Forgetting is the second studio album from Brooklyn singer-songwriter Allegra Krieger. Krieger adds her voice into the insurgent group of folk-leaning indie songwriters, giving her own unique approach through her enchanting arrangements and clever lyricism. With her sophomore effort, Krieger projects herself as a self-assured songwriter who deserves broader attention.
Leading off, “The Push and the Pull” sets the tone with sparse, economical guitar. Krieger immediately demonstrates her diverse skillset as a vocalist, swiftly morphing from an aloof drawl to delicate and featherweight singing in the chorus. The composition style feels like a more skeletal Big Thief. Instruments organically unfold, creating an overwhelming sensation of space. Krieger questions human capacity for empathy and understanding amongst each other. “How delicate the heart desolate, gone without a trace?” she ponders. “Welcome” introduces country-laden strings mixed with breezy fingerpicking. Drummer Eladio Rojas has a refrained playing style, but his rolling percussion is hard to glance over when projected.
On “Telephone”, Rob Taylor’s relaxed bassline works hand in hand with the dense echo of Jacob Matheus’ electric guitar for a hallucinatory effect. As opposed to technological communication, Krieger calls for true tangible connection, or “skin and bones”. With quiet hiss, Krieger alludes to her religious upbringing while connecting it to a betrayal of romantic interest. “Your body is quite like the Bible, I read it and throw it away before day,” she scorns. Raised Catholic, Krieger started in music studying classical piano for her church. But over time she has dissociated from religion altogether – the search for newfound truth and leaving past selves behind is a major theme of this album.
Guitar meets with soothing strings for a satisfying springlike atmosphere on “Every Side of You”. The buzzing violin comes from Chase Potter, who counterpoints well with Krieger’s ghostly melodies. Krieger describes “Forgot”, her lead single as “the realisation of losing one’s self in a relationship, and becoming completely beholden to the will of another.” Dark strums communicate a strong sense of discontentment. “I want him to feel special and I want to feel wrong,” she states in contradiction. The track climaxes, adding layers of unorthodox percussion, slashing guitar strums, and choral vocals.
Krieger’s knack for biting humour is best felt on “Rot”. Her sarcasm recalls much in tone from Stella Donnelly’s successful record from last year. “Everyone needs something to hold, not everyone can hold on to the things that they need,” Krieger jokes.
“Love In” and “Every Once in a While” are both simple loves songs and both are perhaps a bit too sweet. Unfortunately, the album loses a bit of a steam towards the second half as passages like this lag in the track listing. The heavy string use on “Love In” can be distracting and one of the more noticeable production misjudgments.
“I’m going to follow the sound, I’m going to lose the truth I found,” she proclaims on “I’m Gonna Drive”. It’s a Kerouacian song about a cross country trip that symbolises finding meaning in the moment, not being beholden to the past. “Where” is a satisfying conclusion with a gorgeous chorus. Krieger’s arranging skills land the finish on this last, exquisitely crafted closing ballad.
Allegra Krieger is a promising up-and-coming songwriter from New York with a distinctive take on contemporary grassroots folk. Her delivery channels songwriters ranging from Joanna Newsom to Sharon Van Etten to Lucy Dacus. The Joys of Forgetting is a satisfying second studio album that should garner her new fans and recognition in the broader music media landscape. The record lags a bit in the middle, and is definitely strongest on the front end. Regardless, Krieger’s economical songwriting and delicate arranging makes her a worthwhile artist to keep an ear out for.