It is about 10:30PM here in New Hampshire and I have a glass of scotch nearby as I write this. The nights are growing cooler, and the air feels like the crisp crunch of fallen leaves. The smell of chimney smoke permeates the cloudless star-filled sky reminding me that the slow death and decay of the earth is upon us. This time of year, when the Autumn Equinox has arrived is a perfect time than any to hear the haunting lamentations of Kim Larsen’s new Of the Wand and the Moon album “Your Love Can’t Hold This Wreath of Sorrow”. I was graciously given a promo of the new album and got to spend a long, long time giving it a listen and think it is one of Larsen’s best works. It has been eleven long years since “The Lone Descent” and I can say “Your Love Can’t Hold This Wreath of Sorrow is a fantastic follow-up in every sense of the word.
One thing about Of the Wand and the Moon is I always stumbled upon his albums at times that are very difficult in my life. I always felt a sense of synchronicity when I listen to Larsen’s music. It is like the music and lyrics reflect my life in the uncanniest way all the years I have been a fan. Larsen has a supernatural knack for writing music that not only is dark and depressing in nature but also so relevant to my life and many others who have gotten the pleasure of stumbling upon his music. “Your Love Can’t Hold This Wreath of Sorrow” arrived in my inbox during an incredibly painful transition in my life. Every lyric, note, and image just overwhelmed me with emotion I haven’t felt in a long while. I am brave enough to admit that this album caused me to get misty eyed on more than one occasion because of how on-point the album parallels to my recent heartache.
I would call “Your Love Can’t Hold This Wreath of Sorrow” an album that is incredibly cinematic and almost a concept album in many ways. If you were to describe the highs, lows, beginnings and ends of relationships this album eerily hits all those moments and feelings to a raw, vulnerable degree. For me, I was in a two-year long relationship which took me to the old, beautiful, dirty streets of Dublin, Ireland. The idea of romance in a city and the inevitable end is very pronounced in a multitude of ways in “Your Love Can’t Hold This Wreath of Sorrow” Larsen takes many daring streets of almost making Of the Wand and the Moon urbanized compared to the typical rural, and pastoral feel of earlier albums. At first this may sound jarring, but it works in many incredible, clever, and creative ways. I think it makes the music more powerful to hear because a lot of my past pains happened in big cities.
To me the city is a place with so many stories, people, thoughts, and feelings. When I wandered the streets of Dublin, NYC, Salt Lake City, Boston, and Portland I could feel and even see a dreamlike romance of two lovers in a smoky bar I could see a jilted lover openly weeping on a park bench underneath dirty streetlight. Larsen completely takes these concepts and runs with them. The two songs that really hit these ideas to the fullest extent is “Let’s Take a Ride (My Love)” and “There’s Nothing for Me Here” I cannot stop listening to these songs because not only are they beautiful, but catchy (which is unusual for Of the Wand and The Moon).
There is a ton of wonderful dark folk songs to be had in the album and all the songs hit so many emotions. Though, there are three songs that are unique that took me longer to understand and digest. The first track “Fall From View” it starts out as an ambient, amorphous entity that starts quiet and goes down a chaotic (even nightmarish) rabbit hole that is very uncomfortable to listen to (in the best possible way) to me the song reminds me of the many sleepless nights where I can’t shut down my brain and I think the worst of the worst. Then, I eventually go into restless sleep and have nightmares that haunt me even when I have been long awake. The second track is “Les Journées Sans Fin Et Les Nuits Solitaires (Endless Days and Lonely Nights)” it is a very quiet song that reminds me of the “Nighttime Nightrhymes” song “The Substance of Simplicity” it has this beautiful, airy, and ethereal female vocal chant happening throughout the song and then a female monologue spoken in French filters through the chants and gentle acoustic strumming. To me it is a song giving the perspective of relationships and how one wishes things could have been different and feels guilt around what transpired, also there is a sense of longing and thinking of when things were beautiful and full of life in the beginning. The final unique track is a quick minute and a half instrumental called “Williamsburg Bridge” to me it is the closest you could get to the atmosphere, and energy of life in the big city at night it sounds so lonely and isolating even among the roiling sea of humanity around you. This quick song really sticks with you long after you hear it.
One thing that really stands out with not only “The Lone Descent” but “Your Love Can’t Hold This Wreath of Sorrow” is when Kim Larsen incorporates more guest musicians to his vision. You notice a massive surge in sound and feeling in the songs and almost a bombast compared to quiet contemplation in earlier albums. I think with contributing musicians to Of the Wand and the Moon’s music it makes the emotions more intense in the songs. The one standout is the trumpeting work of Bo Rande never have I heard a trumpet make my eyes well up more than the trumpet work in “Your Love Can’t Hold This Wreath of Sorrow” it somehow gives the songs a whole new meaning and fits the citylike feel of the songs to an even greater extent. Rande’s talents give me a whole new perspective on the beauty of the iconic brass horn and how it can be used perfectly in dark folk music.
There are so many dichotomies found throughout “Your Love Can’t Hold This Wreath of Sorrow” there is a constant sense of movement, transitioning, and eventual healing after so much pain and heartache. When an album can genuinely hit your core, it is a masterpiece in my opinion. To me “Your Love Can’t Hold This Wreath of Sorrow” is exactly this. I think Kim Larsen nailed it in ever sense of the word yet again. I sense this album is going to get many, many hundreds of listens in the foreseeable future. I have finished my glass of scotch and feel like after going through the journey that is “Your Love Can’t Hold This Wreath of Sorrow” I can honestly say it helped me close that chapter of Dublin in my life, and now I can move forward to new horizons though guarded but hopeful all the same.