Chris Thile Announces Album of Songs Exploring Spirituality
Photo by Josh Goleman
You just knew he wasn’t just sitting around amid the lockdown. With touring off his plate in the past year, Chris Thile recorded a vocal and mandolin album exploring his personal views on spirituality.
Laysongs, an album of six covers and three original songs, will be released June 4 on Nonesuch Records.
In true Thile fashion, the album’s songs span an astonishing range of influences and genres. There’s the fourth movement of Béla Bartók’s Sonata for Solo Violin (performed, of course, on mandolin), a cover of Hazel Dickens’ “Won’t You Come and Sing for Me,” and “God Is Alive, Magic Is Afoot,” based on Buffy Sainte-Marie’s adaptation of a Leonard Cohen poem. Laysongs was recorded in a studio housed in an old church in Hudson, New York, near where Thile and his family have been living during the pandemic.
While Thile was raised in a Christian household, Thile has expanded his view of spirituality as an adult, realizing that the true uplift comes from being with others. It’s a realization that ties directly into the making and timing of Laysongs.
“I was more than ever before craving that thing — singing with people, making music with people, but particularly that very selfless kind of music making that happens in church,” he says in a news release announcing the album. “At best you aren’t thinking about yourself or even about the people you’re making music with. You’re all just doing it together and it’s about something else. It’s really beautiful. And it’s maybe the only thing about organized religion that I miss.”
You can watch Thile perform the opening track, “Laysong,” here:
Chris Thile was named one of No Depression‘s Artists of the Decade in 2019 — read an essay about his contributions by Sarah Jarosz. And you can read about Thile’s collaborations in our Winter 2020 journal, “All Together Now.” It’s sold out in print but still available for purchase digitally.