Georgia-born Liz Durrett got her first guitar at age sixteen. Over the next three years, she wrote and recorded an album’s worth of songs that would eventually be released eight years later under the name Husk. Though the songs were written at her parents’ home and in a dorm room at the University of Georgia in the mid-nineties, they are hardly the fodder of a student sorting through the perils of 8 a.m. classes and final exams. Husk‘s nine songs have an almost ominous maturity and a sense of gothic Southern bleakness surging throughout them.
The “In My Room”-type loneliness that opens the album establishes the personal ambience that eventually comes to encircle Husk. Every note on “Vine” seems like an accident, one that wasn’t supposed to land into anyone else’s hands. The title track has more of the same, and Durrett sings barely above a lullaby drone, doubling her initial vocals with a soothing whisper that finds its way to chilling harmony overtop the same four picked guitar chords. She mentions the “ghost of a beast in the woods” and a “virus that swells in the grass” in the fashion of a child, and it makes you tilt your head in disbelief as if you’re listening to a firsthand account of something supernatural but beautiful just the same.
Husk‘s grass-roots sound can be traced to the renowned Athens, Georgia folk songwriter Vic Chestnutt. He and his wife Tina, Durrett’s aunt and uncle, recorded and produced the album. Chestnutt’s 1991 album, West of Rome, which was recorded years before Husk was completed, featured violin accompaniment from a young Durrett. Even though Durrett’s then-blossoming songwriting barely deviates from occasional monotonous dreariness, Husk suffers little, offering an interesting photo-album montage of deep lo-fi introspection.