Sometimes, when you listen to a record, you can immediately tell that an artist has put a significant part of them on the line for the listener to digest. Auto by Wendy Eisenberg encapsulates that better than any album I have heard in the year 2020. Wendy Eisenberg proves that they have a vast knowledge of music and displays that across 13 breathtaking songs that feel minimalist yet chaotic all at once. So many of these songs display the various musical experiences Wendy has had in the past and push what they have done in the past even further. These musical experiences that shine through on this record in particular include Wendy’s studies in guitar experimentation, a guitarist in noise punk band Birthing Hips, and playing free-jazz. Somehow all of these different experiences bubble up against each other and make this fabulous end product, a concoction that is quite pleasing to the taste and never grows old. Auto is a lesson in taking all of your past experiences and using them to your advantage to create something that is meaningful, with enough accessibility and experimentation to keep people interested and listening.
The instrumentation, while at times seems very minimal and lacking, is one of the most interesting qualities about this record. As stated before, Eisenberg isn’t a stranger to the world of guitar experimentation. Two of their previous records have played around with guitar experimentation solely. This record blends both their interests for guitar experimentation interests in jazz arrangements into an accessible and unique singer-songwriter record. There are moments on this record that Wendy’s voice crunches just right with the guitar, adding a completely new layer to what they have been obsessed with on previous releases. The techniques used on this record range from feeling fragile and weak, like on the first minutes of the song ‘I Don’t Want To.’ This fragile feeling continues throughout the song, but we get moments of swelling throughout that feel like they build up, and just stop throughout, which absolutely will make you keep wanting to listen to the track and album as a whole, as it is the leadoff song on this record. Mostly, the guitar playing feels like a new type of chaos that music listeners aren’t accustomed to, but ready for.
Lyrically, this record is also excellent, as Wendy sings about personal experiences and emotions in very straightforward and honest ways, as they navigate through some really dark corners at times. It’s a very personal record that has various themes of independence, childhood wounds, and age, just to name a few. One can tell that Wndy has a knack for looking deem down into themselves and the people that grace their life in a very honest way, and has really reflected who they are on this record that shows so much personal maturity and growth. It’s a lyrically refreshing record that may take time and multiple listens to appreciate how lyrical Wendy can get on this record.
The areas where Auto fell short, would have to be on the front half of this record. Maybe they take more time to appreciate, but I noticed sort of a lack in experimentation on tracks 3-6 on this record, which almost sort of puzzled me. This record starts out so strong, and then kind of just hits a wall, but it definitely picks itself up on the latter half of Auto, which is a bit of a curiosity to this critic. By all means these songs in these spots were pretty decent, but they almost felt out of place on the track listing to an extent. It is the type of lull that could very well have a purpose, but might leave some listeners wanting more of those experimental moments.
Auto is a brilliant work coming from someone who has so many different interests throughout the world of music. The typical music fan does not get to see these styles cross over into something this nonchalantly catchy and captivating, which makes it for a very entertaining listen. Auto has the capability to push forward the barriers that some artists who delve in the more acoustic and singer songwriter musicians seem to entrap themselves in, and I would highly recommend those artists to listen to what Wendy does with the sounds on their record. You truly won’t want to miss the brilliant moments sprinkled throughout the accomplishment that Auto is.
Favorite Tracks: Futures, The Moon, Centreville
Least Favorite Tracks: Urge, AOB
Listen to the track 'Futures', from Wendy Eisenberg's Auto, below: