Album of the Week | Allegra Krieger: I Keep My Feet on the Fragile Plane

On her latest, the New York singer/songwriter guides us through the spaces in between where we've been and where we'll go next

Music Reviews Allegra Krieger
Album of the Week | Allegra Krieger: I Keep My Feet on the Fragile Plane

New York singer/songwriter Allegra Krieger has quietly been releasing volumes of tender, searing folk for years. 2022’s Precious Thing was met with a gentle crest of recognition and, now, she’s making her Double Double Whammy debut with I Keep My Feet On The Fragile Plane. The 10-track, Luke Temple-produced record bowls over an unsuspecting listener with razor sharp reflections on city drudgery and the redeeming sparks of the sublime as they interact with the mundane.

Krieger’s songwriting picks you up and turns you around–upon a first full listen, I found myself feeling wistful and a little dizzy. I’d walked in large, uneven circles around my neighborhood at dusk, transported by her deft and–at times–oblique lyricism and the inventive, subtly psychedelic production that lifts her voice into a tender, liminal space. As the sun set and she sang of “an old light lingering around everything,” I immediately started searching for words to describe it. Still dazed, I sent a text to a friend saying that “Allegra Krieger’s new record is like taking a walk through a neighborhood you used to live in while on mushrooms.”

What I was looking for was a way to describe the ways that Krieger creates music that settles right in between the past and the future–while also fully recognizing the ephemeral nature of both. We all know what it’s like to be in the present, but where she lands on this record is a place just above the moment we’re in right now. In reference to the title, she identifies this space as “the fragile plane,” calling it “a middle ground in the universe” where the kaleidoscope of her (and our) experiences settle on a single, colorful frame. I Keep My Feet On The Fragile Plain is both a breath-wracking, teary-eyed sigh and a celebration; a masterclass on gently pulling two opposing truths into one grand transformation.

I Keep My Feet On The Fragile Plane opens with a smattering of tracks threaded with a surprising array of sounds and textures. Throughout the record, instruments like the French horn, pedal steel and electric guitar walk in and out of the arrangements with a lopsided grace. Krieger doesn’t waste any time before coming in with a gut punch on the title track, which is a gentle strummer undercut by a static drone and a small coterie of wind instruments. The first moment of levity that lends itself enough to passive listening comes on “Nothing In This World Ever Stays Still,” a breezy, folksy nod to her stint in California with Joni Mitchell-conjuring delivery. “When you feel like heaven you’re closer to death” sings Krieger, as she recounts taking orders for shrimp and the revolving door of misfortune and joy as wildfires burn and beauty slips in.

It’s true that Allegra Krieger fully deserves the draw of a parallel to Joni. As the world of confessional folk has become more and more saturated, her voice and musicality stand out–due largely to the precision with which she follows her intuition down intriguing, melodic paths while retaining balance between dreamlike and clear-eyed sentiments in her lyricism. In a press release, Krieger was noted as an inheritor of “Joni Mitchell’s sharp noticing,” with the caveat that “the dream-like association, harmonic dissonance and angular melodic ascensions in each song are singularly and delightfully Krieger’s.”

Throughout the record, Krieger taps into varying approaches to genre and instrumentation, striking the same spot with different tools until a shiny, treasured center is revealed. On “I Wanted To Be,” she admits over a quiet but fervent strum that “I don’t want to watch everything I love leave,” before later breaking the spell of tenderness with gritty guitars and feedback. She approaches that world again on “I Had Some To Give,” an acoustic waltz that makes some of the most acute emotional observations of the record as she wrestles with the shape-shifting nature of painful memories. As she’s “making a joke with a friend while flipping the table” Krieger catches a glimpse of “something that I recognized.”

The coin of memory and the present is flipped, and Krieger surrenders to the moment “when pleasure and pain start to feel exactly the same,” noting how “everything comes the same way that it goes / the door’s gotta open / and the door’s gotta close.” It’s the type of moment that entrances a listener–and it’s a reminder of the ways that music can help us alchemize simple truths so lessons can be learned and integrated. This is a process that Krieger finds solace in, as she performs a gentle balance between holding hope and pain–a sentiment she carries across the rest of the record.

Side two of I Keep My Feet on The Fragile Plane continues its effort of emotional excavation and genre play. There’s the hypnotic piano ballad “Terribly Free” and the nearly imperceptible–yet still viable stripped back–‘80s sentimentality of “Low” mixed in with a healthy batch of simple but astute folk tracks. Krieger presents another retrospective on album closer “Lingering” that plays out like the soundtrack of an indie movie credits-roll after two star-crossed lovers part ways. For all of the hushed introspection on the record, her clever lyricism never feels contrived–and it’s only amplified by Temple’s charming production choices and the wide sonic palette he uses to compliment her simple-but-strong song structures.

What I haven’t mentioned yet is Krieger’s voice, which is agile and warm. There’s weight behind even the most gentle whispers and delicate riffs and her lyrical capacities help move the quieter moments along–as her introspection is poetic and, at times, academic. She challenges the listener to engage her musings by offering uncanny depth as a reward for doing such.

I Keep My Feet On The Fragile Plane is a wildly successful catalog of the trials of early adulthood, providing a comfortable space to explore painful points of unrealized promise and acceptance. Krieger seems at home within the structures of her languid, smoldering ballads–though the fire burns hot when she picks up speed just a little bit, navigating her compelling vocal melodies with a loping acoustic guitar. What’s always present is her keen emotional intelligence and knack for finding levity. At the heart of her songs, one can always catch a glimpse of the feeling that everything really does work out in the end. This is true if you’re able to accept that you’ll always be on the “fragile plane,” the halfway point between where you were and where you’re going. Rest assured, Allegra Krieger’s there, too—making music to usher us through.

Emma Bowers is a musician, writer and textile artist currently living in Portland, Oregon. Her written work includes pieces for NPR, The Alternative, Slumber and NYLON. In addition to work across the music industry, she regularly shares thoughts and curated playlists in her newsletter Blue Hour.

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