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Like most of Lay’s solo material, August puts the focus on her voice and guitar, the latter either an acoustic, or an electric clean enough to serve the same stylistic function. But Ty Segall, who co-produced the sessions with Lay, has done just enough to fill out the sound that this music sounds bigger and more expressive without ever approaching a sense of clutter. The addition of a bass, snare drum, and fiddle on the title cut gives the music a dynamic sense that’s striking without compromising the intimacy of the performances, and the unexpected punctuation of a saxophone on “Death Up Close” achieves similar rewards.

As a guitarist, Lay’s fingerpicking is strong and fluid, suggesting John Fahey’s influence is still being felt in the last months of the 2010s, and as a songwriter, she creates tunes with a simple grace that’s a superb match for the lyrics which revel in the glorious mysteries of the world around us. And it’s welcome to hear a contemporary artist who so comfortably embraces their folkie side without a sense of irony and with both feet planted firmly in reality.