If the Low Anthem had recorded Smart Flesh in a conventional studio, it might not have sounded like much. At heart this is a dustily traditional collection of folk songs, their straightforward rhythms and plain instrumentation intermittently embellished with musical saw and pump organ, their lyrics of loss, redemption and death occasionally startling, with such vivid imagery as that of "a Bible in a bath of formaldehyde". But the Rhode Island quartet didn't record it in a conventional studio: they holed up in a disused factory, whose cavernous architecture makes every note thrum as though transmitted to the living world from some eerie limbo inhabited by spirits and shadows. The effect is as bewitching as it is chilling, steeping Ghost Woman Blues and Wire in melancholy, and giving the album the atmospheric cohesion that its predecessor, 2009's Oh My God, Charlie Darwin, seemed to lack.
The Low Anthem: Smart Flesh – review