Los Angeles-based harpist Mary Lattimore returns with Silver Ladders, the full-length follow-up to acclaimed album Hundreds of Days. Since 2018, Lattimore has toured internationally, released collaborative albums with artists such as Meg Baird and Mac McCaughan, and shared a friends-based remix album featuring artists such as Jónsi and Julianna Barwick.
Recorded over nine days at Halstead’s studio stationed on an old airfield, Silver Ladders finds Lattimore exercising command and restraint. Her signature style is refined, the sprawling layers of harp reigned in and accented by flourishes of low-end synth and Halstead’s guitar. The music can feel ominous but not by compromising vivid wonder, like oceanic overtones that shift with the tides. This material is colored by specific memories for Lattimore; “Neil has this poster of a surfer in his studio and I’d look at it each day, looking at the sunlight glinting on the dark wave. In these songs I like the contrast between the dark lows and the glittering highs. The gloom and the glimmer, the opposites, a lively surfing town in the winter turned kinda rainy and empty and quiet.”
These songs are tales, and yet Silver Ladders is open to interpretation. Her memories — “the Cornish landscape, the hotel from the movie The Witches, the cream tea, winning the pub quiz, the Sunday Roast, the ghosts of all of the surfers who had died in the wild waves, the night walks to the top of the hill to see the moon shining on the water…” — shine through these works without defining them. In a way, much like the sea, or the sky, they belong to everyone. Such is the beauty of her craft, which stands here in unprecedented company and clarity, the confidence of an artist in full.