Dorthia Cottrell – “Kneeler” (Stereogum Premiere)

As Windhand’s frontwoman, Dorthia Cottrell is one of the most powerful vocalists in doom metal today, maybe the most powerful (she’s up against some stiff competition in the forms of Pallbearer’s Brett Campbell and YOB’s Mike Scheidt). But Cottrell’s forthcoming self-titled debut solo album casts her in a whole new light, and puts her in a whole other class of vocalist. Dorthia Cottrell, the album, is spare in structure — all built around an acoustic guitar and that timeless, miraculous voice — but massive in sound. Cottrell makes every breath count; she delivers lilting melodies in plaintive, evocative tones, and finds an unlikely balance of languidness and tension that allows the music to be either deeply relaxing or deeply discomfiting — or both — depending on how you approach it. Dorthia Cottrell is folk music in the traditional sense, and it’s a traditionalist album in much the same way Windhand’s 2013 breakthrough, Soma, was a traditionalist album: It takes old forms and gives them new urgency, new soul. She’s always sounded great, but she’s never sounded better than this. We’ve already heard one track from the record, “Gold,” and today we’ve got another, “Kneeler.” It’s as spacious and bare as an abandoned barn, and from a distance, it appears just as haunted. But get closer, go inside. It will haunt you.

Dorthia Cottrell is out 3/3 via Forcefield.