Erica Buettner’s second full-length LP, The Book of Waves, is a record whose color palette embraces shades of folk, psych-pop, and catchy choruses unified by the steady hand of Buettner’s singular strength as a wordsmith.
The full-length follow up to 2013’s True Love and Water (Peppermoon Music) has been many years in the making, and its release marks the completion of a hard-earned chapter in Buettner’s story. In 2016, her music career was in full swing after several years of European touring following the release and re-release of True Love and Water, which garnered glowing reviews and took her from packed houses in intimate venues like London’s The Slaughtered Lamb to large festivals like the One of a Million Festival in Switzerland, Reeperbahn, and the Tarantella Folk Festival in Southern Italy. The title track True Love and Water was played on BBC6 in the UK and even got a spin from Bernard Lenoir on France Inter.
For years, Buettner embraced a DIY spirit, often booking her own shows and hopping on the road alone with a guitar on her back, touring her adopted country of Portugal from North to South in town theaters, community centers, clubs, and festivals. During this time she sang on the duet Don’t Leave Tonight with Portuguese musician Frankie Chavez, which topped the Portuguese charts. Additionally, she released the collaborative album We Won’t Leave Any Trace with Paris-based musician Dana Boule as their band The Resident Cards.
In 2016, Buettner decided to move to New York to be closer to her family after a full decade of living in France and Portugal. A breast cancer diagnosis came soon after, swiftly and unexpectedly, and it turned her world upside-down. With her record almost finished, she put her music on hold for two years while simultaneously battling an aggressive form of cancer. Having made it through an arduous year and a half of treatment and surviving to tell her story, Buettner is ready to celebrate the songs she had been working on before and through her illness, songs that she wrote while living in Portugal and largely inspired by her time there.
The songs on The Book of Waves were recorded with a similar approach to her first self-release: in a home studio in Paris with producer Pierre Faa, in Montmartre right at the foot of Sacré Coeur. However, this time Faa’s arrangements, keyboard parts and electronic textures join forces with the participation of a group of musicians and friends from Lisbon, Paris, and the East Coast of the US including Helena Espvall (cello), Frankie Chavez (electric guitar), Jean Gillet (percussion and bass), Vincent Mougel (bass), Lo Brifo (bass), Dennis Shafer (clarinet and tenor sax), James Hart (hand percussion) and a duet with French jazz guitarist Paul Abirached. The songs were mixed by James Hart in a cozy home studio in the Hudson Valley, NY and mastered by Chicky Reeves at Sublime Studios in London.
An eclectic and wordy album, The Book of Waves would fit in well in a collection with Angel Olsen, Marissa Nadler, and Leonard Cohen. And yet, Erica’s voice is as hypnotic and as her words are poignant, reinforcing her unique ability as a songwriter to cast a spell that is all her own.
The Book of Waves has support from Fundação GDA.