Sianna Plavin – “Cruel” (Stereogum Premiere)

Sianna Plavin sounds like a late summer evening. Hints of warmth linger in her voice, but even among the bright pinpricks of her harmonies, long darkness stretches ahead. Plavin was previously the frontwoman of a folk duo called Backyard Betties, and has worked with Baltimore folk collective Soft Cat. This summer, though, Plavin is releasing a solo debut called Go On Now, and today we’re premiering the first song off that album, “Cruel.” About five years ago, Plavin moved to a farm in Massachusetts, and this album is the result of tapes recorded there in her spare time. They do not sound like spare-time work. “Cruel” is a lulling, tranquil song about brutality, and Plavin plays with the tension between those two poles like a master puppeteer. It’s flecked with lines like the tossed-off “love runnin’ south,” a wrenching phrase about loss and decaying relationships that’s boiled down to its simplest aspect. Her voice is humid and thick with almost childlike inflection; above all, this record reminds me of Portland folk singer Laura Gibson’s best album, La Grande. Unflinching in the face of the elements, Plavin bends landscapes to her will, making the world itself mimic her emotions. She’s writes in an ancient, simple vein, and these songs sound timeless, like they could’ve just as easily been pulled out from an old trunk up in the attic. Listen below.

Go On Now will be out this 7/31.