Review: Dorthia Cottrell ‘Death Folk Country’

It’s not very often that an album title perfectly describes its content, to the point where three little words can pretty much summarise a whole review, without the need for hundreds of words.

With the new Dorthia Cottrell album Death Folk Country, the title pretty much sums up the musical content and then some. It is an album so rich, and whimsical, yet dark and rooted in a traditional folk embrace, that its three core elements are the overriding spirit for the whole opus.

Dorthia Cottrell 'Death Folk Country'
Dorthia Cottrell ‘Death Folk Country’ Artwork

For those in the know, Dorthia is better known for a body of work with doom champions Windhand. Taking centre stage with that band, Dorthia’s incredible talent always shined through, so, it should come as no real surprise at all that she is equally at home with a more stripped back sound too, such as is displayed wondrously on Death Folk Valley.

Over the course of the eleven tracks, the range from ambient, to serene, and back to darkness, is all equally entwined, that makes for something which is so much more than merely music. This is a feast for the soul, of deep intensity, and a parallel of light eloquence, which I believe only a very few musicians can ever truly capture completely.

With this album, you can sit back, allow yourself to be enveloped by it and you will be richly rewarded with a warm embrace, and a feeling that everything is going to be okay. The level of musicianship right across the board is nothing short of heavenly, and Dorthia’s vocals seem to feel weightless throughout. Clear, considered, and with a richness that should make you weak at the knees, this is one album that you will never want to end.

Opening on quite an apprehensive note, Death Is The Punishment For Love sets the scene, with an atmospheric, yet charming instrumental ambience, to usher in the following ten songs.

Harvester hits the ground running and gives a first glimpse at Dorthia’s vocals as it sways in over the delicate chimes, and ambient acoustic guitar. Gentle and otherworldly, it has a very real sense of southern tinged folk, which is both dark and mysterious. Black Canyon rolls straight in after it and ups the anti by throwing in a tickle of country too. Soothing yet forthright, it is insanely hypnotic.

rich in texture, lavish in feel, and deep in emotion…

At this point Family Annihilator, and then Effigy At The Gate Of Ur leave me in no doubt as to just how awesome this album truly is. The former is darker in tone, while the latter is lighter, and more upbeat. These show Dorthia’s ability to jump between both sides of the coin, each with a sublime mastery of texture of sound. The versatility really shows just how special Dorthia is as an artist.

Then comes my essential moment of the whole album, the track Midnight Boy. It has a swampy blues feel to it and takes things on a different path completely, but only for a short time. The guitar work here is more vibrant and has a real twang to it. Darker, yet not at all out of place on this overall experience. Hell In My Water pulls things back round with its bluesy, yet simpler vibe. The vocals are again unwavering, and its as smooth as it is luxurious.

By this point, I am completely lost in the music, so when Take Up Serpents opens, it shakes me back to reality. Darker in mood, and tone, it takes things and regenerates them with a completely new vigour. This track absolutely solidifies what a real talent Dorthia is. While not overly ground-breaking, what it does show is how real talent will shine brighter than any studio trickery, or input by big money producers.

For Alicia is a soulfully engaging piece with soft beautiful harmonising throughout and just when you think that every stone has already been turned this knocks it all for six, then before Death Is The Reward For Love kicks in to close the album, there is one last golden nugget that is Eat What I Kill.

Probably not a vegan’s top choice for a song title, nonetheless, it’s an absolute belter. Holy hell, this is that one definitive track that if you had one shot to promote just how phenomenal Dorthia Cottrell really is, this is that moment. Simple yet powerful, complete with a haunting vocal, this really is the benchmark for quality.

There is something truly wondrous about this whole album. It takes on the melding of several different styles, and morphs them together, into something rich in texture, lavish in feel, and deep in emotion. This should be an album for any collection, and if you don’t know Dorthia Cottrell already, I implore you to go out, and take the time. You won’t regret it.

Label: Relapse Records
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Lee Beamish