Widowspeak is an American band comprised of Molly Hamilton and Robert Earl Thomas, known for its dreamy, western-tinged take on rock and roll. The outfit formed in 2010 and released two singles in 2011 (Harsh Realm, Gun Shy) followed by a debut album (self-titled) in the summer of that year, all on Brooklyn label Captured Tracks. Widowspeak was praised for its reverential spaciousness, Hamilton’s haunting voice, and Thomas’s spindly, Morricone-esque guitar lines; both drawing on 1950’s pop ballads and 1970’s psych, creating languid call-and-response melodies. The band then toured extensively, wearing in their warm, nostalgic sound.
Widowspeak began to write what would become their second record, Almanac, at the start of 2012, as popular fears of the apocalypse became imminently close to realization. Though not totally convinced of catastrophic disaster coinciding with the year’s conclusion, Hamilton nevertheless began writing lyrics seeped in doomsday imagery, darkness and dread, inspired by the idea of such a universal experience of the end. The two started making demos in their practice space. Thomas shaped the ideas into songs, experimenting with denser arrangements and grander gestures. Black and white became Kodachrome, subdued became saturated. Widowspeak explored Appalachian melodies and desert rhythms, Saharan to the Southwest, as well as incorporated acoustic instruments and slide guitar, stemming from a shared love of Neil Young.