Wren sits on the banks of the Methow River, feet submerged, her fingers smoothing a stone. Western tanagers make final, looping flights across the water, yellow bellies bright in the twilight. She opens her hand to show me the salmon-hued stone, musing about her new album’s namesake. “This river, and these stones, gave me something to hold onto, to flow into, when it felt like my life and my health as I knew them were disintegrating.”
It’s summer now, but the story of Pink Stone begins in late fall a few years prior when friends invited her to house-sit their cabin in Washington’s Methow Valley (USA), a place of epic mountain peaks and wild rivers in the traditional territory of the Mətxʷú people. Worn-down and out of songs after years of battling a mysterious illness, she accepted the invitation and left her old life behind to stay for a time at their remote cabin in the woods, lovingly called Moose Lodge.
The body of music and writings that emerged from that first month, and grew over several years of extended returns to the valley, became Wren’s 3rd album, Pink Stone: Songs from Moose Lodge, produced at Airtime Studios in Bloomington, Indiana by David Weber (Moira Smiley, Carrie Newcomer, Straight No Chaser) and featuring Jason Wilber (John Prine band), Krista Detor, and world flutist Gary Stroutsos. At times both melancholic and joyous, the ten-song album showcases Wren’s emotive vocals and classical-guitar accompaniment, bolstered by roots/Americana instrumentation and soothing textures of electric guitars and harmony vocals.
To accompany the album, Wren is releasing a 98-page Companion Book of essay vignettes, journal entries, illustrations, photos, and lyrics born from her time in the Methow (available in physical and digital formats at www.wren-music.com).
“Those were some of the loneliest years of my life, but they were also imbued with a palpable magic,” Wren says. “I was often alone at the cabin, but I wasn’t unattached. My human romances merged with this greater relational experience of place and resulted in a collection of songs about the paradoxes of love and intimacy, where the land and the river often become other characters in the story.”
The resulting album runs like water through the dark, offering warm arms for starless nights and messages of resilience for difficult times.
Pink Stone follows in the steps of Wren’s two earlier place-based albums. Her second album, Stitch an Ocean (2016), described by fRoots as a “heartfelt love-letter to Galicia,” Spain, featured her interpretation of two traditional Galician folksongs in addition to originals. Her first album, Bone Nest (2013), deemed “a perfect soundtrack for our misty Pacific Northwest winters” by DJ Kitty (KSER), was inspired by her coming of age with the plants, animals, and landscapes of the Pacific Northwest, where she grew up on traditional Duwamish territory.