Memories - places, vacancies, allusions - are fundamental characters in Mary Lattimore's evocative craft. The Los Angeles-based harpist recorded her breakout 2016 album, At The Dam, during stops along a road trip across America, letting the serene landscapes of Joshua Tree and Marfa, Texas color her compositions. In 2018, from a restorative station - a redwood barn, nestled in the hills above San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge - emanates Hundreds of Days, her second full-length LP with Ghostly International. The record sojourns between silences and speech, between microcosmic daily scenes and macrocosmic universal understandings, between being alien in promising new places and feeling torn from old native havens. It's an expansive new chapter in Lattimore's story, and an expression of mystified gratitude. A study in how ordinary components helix together to create an extraordinary world.
Mary Lattimore's music functions as a kind of emotional synesthesia. Rather than seeing colors when she hears notes, Lattimore feels things: sadness, hope, longing, memory. She funnels all of that into stirring songs composed on her harp. "I feel like a lot of my music is me channeling feelings or memories," she says. “I just do whatever I want, and try to paint a picture of a memory.”
The memory that provides the basis for At the Dam is particularly striking. Lattimore received a prestigious fellowship from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage - a rare honor given out to just 12 people every year - and she used the funds to take a road trip across America with a friend, writing and recording songs at each stop along the way. Armed with little more than her harp and her laptop, Lattimore drew inspiration from each location, letting the environments in which she recorded seep into her work. The result is music that is stirring, delicate and beautiful, Lattimore's harp at times bright and skipping, other times distant and hazy, swathed in gauzy delay. The net effect feels like what it is, recreations of moments from the past, tender, soft and warm.