The contemplative new single from Big Thief guitarist and solo singer/songwriter Buck Meek also doubles as a vocabulary lesson. “Pareidolia” (defined in a press release as “a word about recognizing shapes where none were intended to exist—like searching for images in the clouds”) is the opening track and second single from Two Saviors, Meek’s forthcoming second solo album, coming Jan. 15, 2021, on Keeled Scales.
Meek expands on his new song and the phenomenon that inspired it in a statement:
We have all painted forms onto the clouds; a phoenix, a fire truck, snakes, Elvis, and so on. We saw these visions as children, we encourage children to search for them, and we can’t help but continue to project meaning and symbolism onto the sky, to see mountains in moving water, faces in knots in wood, hidden messages in music, and god in toast. Pareidolia is a phenomenon which threads mundane experiences such as staring at the ceiling in the morning with the seeds of mythology and spirituality. The physical world is inherently limited, but our minds take every possible opportunity to transcend.
“Maybe it’s a baby / Maybe it’s a cottonmouth swallowing its tail / That one looks like Lady Guadalupe with an airplane in her hair,” sings Meek over a mix of punchy percussion and soothing guitar and piano progressions, using the song’s conceit as a license to cut his mind loose and imagine. But the greatest trick “Pareidolia” pulls is compelling the listener to demonstrate its eponymous phenomenon: We can’t help but search for unique meaning in Meek’s song about just that. A cottonmouth swallowing its tail, indeed.
“Pareidolia” is preceded by lead Two Saviors single “Second Sight,” while the album itself follows Meek’s self-titled 2018 solo debut. The singer/songwriter recorded it in New Orleans with Adam Brisbin (guitar), Mat Davidson (bass, pedal steel, fiddle), Austin Vaughn (drums), and his brother Dylan Meek (piano, organ). Big Thief are well-represented on the album: Meek teamed with producer and engineer Andrew Sarlo, who has produced all four of the band’s albums to date, as well as his Big Thief bandmate Adrianne Lenker, with whom he cowrote “Candle.”
Listen to “Pareidolia” and revisit Meek’s 2018 Paste Studio session below. You’ll find the details of Two Saviors (now available for preorder) further down.
03. Second Sight
04. Two Saviors
05. Two Moons
06. Dream Daughter
07. Ham On White
08. Cannonball! Pt. 2
09. Two Moons (morning)
11. Halo Light