First Watch: Meg Baird, 'Don't Weigh Down The Light'
Themes of transition and change carry across Don't Weigh Down the Light, the third LP from psychedelic folk singer and songwriter Meg Baird. Three years ago, Baird found a new home in San Francisco after a decade building her music career as the whispery-yet-gripping voice of spectral Philadelphia ensemble Espers and later as a solo artist. For Baird, the change was a personal one encompassed by this cross-country move, but also something she saw all around her in the Fishtown and Kensington neighborhoods of Philly. They're like many corners of urban America: working-class wards dotted with shuttered textile factories and crumbling brownstones, but also life-long residents living next door to artists and creatives drawn in by the cheap rent.
Eventually, the scales tip these neighborhoods sadly in the direction of commercialization, but when a balance exists between the purity of an earlier era and the world of today, it can be a thing of beauty. Filmmaker Naomi Yang captures this moment in her new video for the title track of Baird's album, shot in Philadelphia this summer. Footage of real estate signs and run down row-homes next to cookie-cutter new constructions act as an indictment of the gentrification paradox. But the video is equally a celebration of the warm and friendly spaces of these communities: neighbors and dogs, bottled water for sale on a summer sidewalk, handwritten signs and lawn gnomes, vast collections of matchbox cars, wall paintings and mementos of the past that stand their ground against forces of change.
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