Published May 06, 2019Heather Woods Broderick devised her third album, Invitation, on the Oregon coast. Even if you skipped this fact when reading the album's liner notes, the splendour of the coastal landscape can be felt throughout the record. Dense pop compositions curl around Broderick (a longtime collaborator and bandmate of Sharon Van Etten) with a theatrical flair that makes it seem like she's standing on a cliff overlooking the ocean as a storm rolls in.
The lyrics of Invitation suggest Broderick is trying to regain balance in her life, and that this perceived storm is both of personal struggles and tragedies that surround her. On the glimmering opener "A Stilling Wind," Broderick measures her growth and asks, "Have I changed yet? Or do my habits still remain?" By the end of the record, Broderick seems to have come to terms with whatever dark clouds may come her way, repeating, "I accept," on the stirring title track.
Invitation can be a tough record to puncture. The shadowy soundscapes — thick layers of keys and strings with, oftentimes, thunderous percussion additions — sometimes overpower Broderick's soft vocals. "Nightcrawler," for example, has swinging, captivating instrumentals, anchored by a playful piano melody, but Broderick fades into the background and she becomes the least engaging player on the track.
When she's at the forefront though, Broderick shines. On "Where I Lay," she leads the charge of backing voices and dramatic instrumentals to carve a path to the balance she craves. By the final moments of the album, all that you can hear is the sound of crickets, stray piano chords, and Broderick's enchanting voice and that's when you feel very happy that you accepted this invitation. (Western Vinyl)