When I first heard the name “Millefolium” I knew it sounded familiar. A quick google search told me it was another name for Yarrow, which, if you’re familiar with the work of Cicely Mary Barker, was the plant assigned to my favorite flower fairy as a child. In the late summer my mother would bring home Yarrow flowers to make into tea, which could be used to relieve pain. River Child, the debut album of Josh Kraetsch and Rebecca Sornson, is just that: a healing flower.
Folksy and poetic, River Child is down to earth and lustily adventuresome. Kraetsch and Sornson, who are partners both in art and marriage, say: “We often play our songs at a walking pace. This is how we wander through the everyday mysteries, the thousand leaves at our feet.” The second track off the album, “Broken and United,” is perfectly matched to a steady, introspective amble through the woods. The soft rhythm of voices and pattering drums line the wall of reverberating guitars. Swaying in this cradle of sound, Kraetsch and Sornson sing melancholic and comforting promises.
“If it’s too much for you
Lost in abandoned dreams
We’ll stop the parade here
You can shed your shroud of grief”
To me it sounds like a conversation with an old friend, or rather a personified entity, a reflection of yourself in your broken moments. To be reunited with perhaps a deep familiar sadness or depression, can feel welcoming even in its misery.
“We’re singing to welcome
The broken ones back”
I am speculating here, (as good poetry is meant to be speculated on) but I feel like the comforting, reassuring “We” of the song has a sinister quality.
“I won’t run from you
If you won’t run from me
We got some yarns to spin
With all your energy”
Like a siphon, your melancholia feeds the “We” character/entity. This reminds me of Björk’s song “Unravel” wherein she describes her heartache as a ball of yarn which the Devil “collects with a grin.” What is interesting about “Broken and United,” is its sweetness. It feels like open arms, even if their motivation isn’t for your ultimate good.
“Broken and United” is a dynamic waltz into the shadowy winding paths of River Child. Josh Kraetsch and Rebecca Sornson weave together sonic leaves and branches to get lost within, and to mark our way home.