Track Review: The River Cry – “While I Lie”

[Self-released; 2013]

Under the stage name The River Cry, Hilary Claire Woods makes sparse, solemn, cosseted music for nightfall and the grey days in between. In the vein of dreamscapers Julia Holter and Grouper, she fills big spaces with small sounds, massaging in elements of ambient and drone into traditional folk and acoustic arrangements.

Woods was working towards her Ph.D. before shifting her efforts full-time to The River Cry, and many of her songs carry a sort of academic formality. They are exhaustively constructed, and then obscured, like a skyscraper shrouded in mist. “While I Lie” is debonair on the surface, but it practically forces you to peel back the layers to observe the turmoil within. Woods has a masterful command of atmosphere, singing breathlessly amidst docile piano and guitar and eerie violin slashes: “Vultures would have preyed on the very thread I’ve woven with/ So let this love die out.” Not one to wallow, The River Cry takes the hurt of a failed romance and makes it downright spooky.