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Adrianne Lender takes stage

By Eva ’25

Hello and welcome, dear reader! Today’s artist is someone very near and dear to my heart. Someone that has definitely defined my brain chemistry throughout these last few years. That’s right, I’m talking about Adrianne Lenker.

Before we get into it, allow me to provide some brief context for the inspiration of today’s piece. Picture this: It’s a beautiful Sunday afternoon in Topanga. Tired but deliriously happy, you decide to grab some sustenance: soft-serve ice cream. Entering the shop, Lenker’s “dragon eyes” is blasting through the tiny speakers as you strike up a conversation with the person behind the counter. 

“I love this song!”

“Me too! Adrianne comes in here all the time, you know. Whenever she comes into LA, she stays around here with Buck.” (Buck’s her bandmate, best friend, ex-husband — long story.)

“What?” 

Suddenly, the ice cream slowly melting on the counter has been forgotten. I had just been bombarded with the information that I, devoted fangirl, was standing in the same footsteps as possibly my favorite mind of all time. Oh. My. God. 

As you can tell, I may be just a tad obsessed with one Adrianne Elizabeth Lenker. My goal is to have you, dear reader, understand this obsession by the end of this piece, if not develop a small one of your own.

Lenker is originally from Indiana, spending the first few years of her childhood in a Christian cult (don’t ask). As a literal musical prodigy, she began writing music at eight and put out her first record at 14. Then, she skipped out on high school, earned her GED at 16 and went straight to the Berklee College of Music. 

Lenker began to grow as a household name in the mid 2010s after the formation of her band, Big Thief, and the release of their debut album “Masterpiece.” The album awarded Lenker a great amount of praise as the lead songwriter, guitarist and vocalist of the band. To this day, Lenker continues to release music with Big Thief as well as on her own, and is considered (by me) to be the absolute smartest and greatest artist alive (clearly not biased). 

Now, let’s talk about her music. While Big Thief is an incredible project, we’ll be focusing on Lenker as a solo artist today. Allow me to outline my recommended route of a selection of her solo records. I am your compass on this beautiful journey. 

First of all, I highly recommend starting off with her masterpiece (no pun intended), “songs.” “Songs,” her most recent solo album released in 2020, is absolutely stunning both lyrically and instrumentally. Lenker takes the listener on a journey created through intricate guitar, colorful lyricism and overall vibes. I truly believe that “anything” is the greatest song ever written.

Loved it? Next up, it’s time for “Hours of the Birds,” released in 2014. My personal favorite. This album showcases Lenker’s true magic. Even in her early work, she has always been a simply mind blowing lyricist and guitarist. This album feels like a warm hug or a hot cup of tea. Not sold yet? Here’s a story: The first time I heard “Steamboat” I curled up in a ball and sobbed for maybe 10 minutes. 

While these two albums are the most special to me personally, all of her work is amazing and highly recommended. This woman, her beautiful brain and her gorgeous guitar can do no wrong. 

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