In 2015, four months after giving birth to her daughter, the cartoonist and musician Geneviève Castrée was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She died the following year at the age of 35.
It was an incomprehensible loss for her husband, singer-songwriter Phil Elverum, who performs as Mount Eerie. Almost immediately, he began writing songs about his grief, addressed directly to her.
“I guess I felt like she was the one who understood what I was navigating through,” he says. “She was there too even though she didn't exist anymore.”
In 2017, he released a devastatingly raw album, called “A Crow Looked At Me,” that garnered widespread critical acclaim. And he’s now followed it up with a companion record, “Now Only.”
For both albums, Elverum abandoned the metaphor and poetic language of his previous work. Instead, he fills the new songs with quiet, prosaic moments and euphemism-free descriptions of the physical realities of death.
“Poetry seemed useless in the context of actual annihilation,” says Elverum. “So I felt like — well, if I'm going to write anything or say anything, all I am allowed to talk about is what I know for sure to be true ... which is breakfast.”
Elverum also reads from Castrée’s upcoming illustrated book, “A Bubble.”