Allegra Krieger– Precious Thing
It makes perfect sense that in October 2020, Allegra Krieger drove across the country from Brooklyn to California to record her second and most recent album, Precious Thing. These ten contemplative songs wash over you like the daydreams you have while watching the world fly past outside the car window on a long road trip. The music is at times lush and sweeping, and in other moments sparse and intimate, with only Krieger’s voice paired with an acoustic guitar or a few piano notes. Her lyrics are full of keen observations of the beautiful and painful world around her, and overall the album is a calming, comforting balm coming out of the tumult of these past two pandemic years, both for Allegra Krieger and for us, her listeners.
The album’s first track, “Wake Me If I’m Asleep,” opens with an extended instrumental introduction before Krieger’s voice breaks through over the guitars, singing: ”the ambulance’s siren/ mixes with the violin/ there’s a body on a bed rolling down the street/ while looking out of my window, I call you up on the phone/ say I hope you get home all right/ wake me if I’m asleep.” There’s a consistent theme here of wanting to hold the things you love very close, while also knowing that everything is constantly shifting, speeding by, and you can’t keep these dear things close to you for too long, and maybe it’s wiser to step back, to love with a looser grip. We hear this realization again in “Taking It In,” the album’s third track (which also has a gorgeous video shot at Coney Island): “No, I don’t want to lose it / reaching / reaching / gone.”
All ten of these songs are gems, but my two favorites are “Let Go” and “No Machine,” both of which have surprising meandering melodies that really show off Krieger’s unique songwriting style. In “Let Go,” the piano is in unison with her voice in some places, accentuating the unexpected turns of the melodic line, as the lyrics again bring us back to the challenge of accepting inevitable changes: “nobody wants to be unhappy/ but nobody wants to let go.” “No Machine” features an absolutely regal (and again, wonderfully surprising) trombone sound from Kalia Vandever as Krieger’s lyrics embrace crises of faith and what it means to be human and flawed: “soaking up the remnants of pain, the absence, the choice, the excessive noise, the presence of some higher power to turn away from…no automated machine can keep up with me/ what I feel is what I’ll be.”
With beautiful production from Luke Temple, and an outstanding ensemble of musicians backing her up, Allegra Krieger has gifted us with a gorgeous and intimate journey in Precious Thing. It’s an album that you get lost in, that you float away on, an album for dreaming and waking up to see more clearly.