Aimee Wilson is like an alternate-reality Gillian Welch. American “roots” in country-folk are readily discernible, but her groundwaters run deeper; and from them spring sounds at once Celtic and universal, brought to fruition through the use of ancient instruments like harp, hurdy-gurdy and Chinese erdu. The best songs on Unto Us the Sun burn bright with the embers of racial memory. There is something primal and archetypal afoot in the chanted closing of “Celebration” and the strange inevitability with which it occurs. On “Down Came a Rock” and “Suri”, Wilson’s voice quavers like the faintly heard spirits of lost civilizations.
The album is disappointing only to the extent that the more conventionally arranged tracks break the spell, catapulting the listener back into the grim realities of 21st century America, which means, in essence, that Unto Us the Sun works best when its musical universe is at its most self-contained. As for possible points of reference: the Incredible String Band at its most cosmic and beautiful (they were a folk band after all), Donovan’s occasional trips into the mystic (“Roots of Oak”), and Loreena McKennitt (to bring things at least moderately more up to date) all come to mind.
But it is ultimately more difficult to single out similar-sounding predecessors than it is to simply recommend the album. For it is to be hoped that Ms. Wilson finds a fan base sufficient to put her Sun on the map.