Hear First: Cornelia Murr’s Lake Tear of the Clouds

Stream the album and read Julianna Barwick's thoughts here.

Hear First is Talkhouse’s series of album premieres. Along with streams of upcoming albums—today’s is Cornelia Murr’s debut Lake Tear of the Clouds—we publish statements from artists and their peers about the mindsets and impressions that go into, or come out of reflection on, a record. Here, Julianna Barwick shares some free-associated ideas she wrote while listening to the album, which you can also listen to right here.
—Annie Fell, associate editor, Talkhouse

It’s odd to carry around a feeling that you’re not inhabiting your destiny—that what was meant to be is happening to another version of you living it out in a parallel universe. Not to say that you’re unhappy or dissatisfied with what you are currently experiencing. Maybe you are even pretty elated on a regular basis, but then there’s a voice that says, “Weird, this is totally not what you thought you’d be… Embrace it, I guess.” Maybe this is a pretty common thought process people have, maybe not. Have you ever looked across a room and blurred your vision to imagine yourself in someone else’s shoes? Like, maybe that could be my life if I hadn’t made one decision on March 26, 1999? What was that day, even? Why did I think of that particular day? Then you look through emails or photos to see if there’s some hidden meaning there—something that if you could just unlock it, you’d know why you were where you are.

Have you ever pondered seriously the idea that things are “Meant to happen,” like, “It was meant to be,” then you realize you’re just trying to make magic for yourself, and just because you and a person share an almost identical first name and don’t have a middle name at all then it must mean that you are destined to be together—”Meant to be.” Nearly every time I’ve tried to create magic, most often in times when things seemed cosmic or drawn together by heavenly entities or symbols or nearly anything that I convince myself is magic-making, it ends up being kind of dumb. Not devastating, just dumb, and I realize there really is no rhyme or reason to anything. It’s pretty random and based entirely on coincidence.

Not to say there isn’t a pull between people. I think we can all agree that there is. I’ve had some seriously crazy happenings with people I have previously connected to, like running straight into them on a street in Dublin, or a subway door opens and they’re sitting right in front of you and you didn’t even know they moved to your town. I think we spend a lot of time on connections missed, imagined, gone wrong, or anticipated. I know I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it, which means it’s pretty one-sided and may not have much to do with the magic of connecting that we think it might. When you’re constantly moving, it’s hard to keep connections rooted in fertile soil that will bring forth a magnificent tree bearing beautiful fruit that everyone wants to eat. Sometimes it’s just an avocado seed you’ve had floating in some water for over a year that has the tiniest sprout that you can’t give up on somehow. Or, it’s a plant that sprouted in days of sunshine that now weakly tries to survive in the corner of some room that no one ever visits. Or, it’s a plant that makes the best tasting fruit but gives you a headache, so you figure out how to keep eating it, you just have advil on hand.

It’s a tough one; which connections do you nourish and which do you let “Float in and out of your life like snow”? There are some connections I really miss. Some are impossible to revisit. Some lay out on the horizon, you’ll just have to figure out how to borrow a horse to get out there. Some connections I wish I’d never made, but they teach me lessons, so not a total loss, I guess. I guess it’s important to nourish them all no matter where they land on the scale. Love them, but love yourself too, and don’t let that parallel destiny you get you down. I wrote this listening to Cornelia’s gorgeous record. —Julianna Barwick

Cornelia Murr was born in London and resides in California as a dual citizen, but spent much of her childhood moving through the United States, from Colorado to Massachusetts, California to New York City and upstate New York. Working with producer Jim James of My Morning Jacket on her debut album Lake Tear of the Clouds, Murr conjures a hazy blend of folk and cosmic soul music, and taps into the bucolic spirit of the Hudson Valley.