Decorated with wind chimes and childhood nostalgia, Dorthia Cottrell’s new single “Harvester” longs for nature. She explains, “Where I’m from, and probably most rural places in the U.S., there is a strong Christian religious presence, whether you identify as being religious or not, and it was always my feeling that that has a lot to do with being surrounded and immersed in nature and every part of your life being at the mercy of it – even when it is merciless and brutal. When you’re surrounded by something so vast and beautiful, the presence of ‘god’ and whatever that might mean to anyone, is blatant and undeniable. To me, ‘god’ is nature and God is Mother Earth, so also to me, when I’m back home or anywhere like that I feel deeply the presence of my own idea of spirituality, the wonders of it and the feeling of being something small in the face of something totally out of your control.
That’s what ‘Harvester’ is about. Bad or good, In the patterns of nature you can see the patterns of all life, maybe even the patterns of the universe too, and that symmetry to me is god, and I’m grateful for it.”
Across both her solo work and as the vocalist of renowned doom band Windhand, Cottrell envisions her music as both a document of love and a reconciliation with death. On her new album, Death Folk Country, Cottrell wards off death through creation – the most distilled form of love. The spirit of love passed on through her words will be the ultimate reward for earthly suffering. Cottrell’s enigmatic presence guides listeners down a path of introspection – Death Folk Country‘s massive scope touches upon tales of love, loss, and so much more.
Cottrell was raised in rural King George, Virginia, a town with less than 5,000 inhabitants. Forests and tall-grass fields stretched before her. Beauty and boredom soared. That vague melancholy and memory of the American South is smudged all over Cottrell’s music. Cottrell grew up a goth, an outcast in a small town – a time and place she revisits throughout Death Folk Country.
“This album to me is about painting a picture of a place where my heart lives,” Cottrell explains. The title Death Folk Country is partly me describing a genre that fits the sound – but it’s also meant to be taken as a Naming, a coronation of the world inside me. Death Folk Country is the music and also the land where the music takes place, and the two have always been inextricable from each other.”
Cottrell’s voice, a quavering alto, fills the emptiest of canyons. Singing in echoing harmony with itself, her voice is a kind of prophecy, bringing home to the present thoughts and realizations from the future, even as Cottrell buries herself in remembrance of the past. Death Folk Country takes these nostalgic ideas of “home” and confronts them with their own imperfections and darkness.
The album sees its release April 21 via Relapse Records, her first for the label and follow up to her highly acclaimed, 2015 S/T solo debut. All songs on Death Folk Country were written / played by Dorthia Cottrell and recorded / produced by Jon K. and Cottrell at SANS Studios in Richmond, Virginia.
Photo Courtesy: Richard Howard