Immediately, it’s obvious that Andy Cartwright’s 12-string acoustic is a beloved thing. The strings are dulled from constant exposure to the outdoors. The body resonates with the warmth of a fire-heated home. His fingers run through it with unconscious intimacy, as fluid and expressive as human speech, alternating between rich cycles of arpeggiation and low strums that radiate inside my stomach. They Haunted Most Thickly sounds like time spent alone; a long walk through the forest, collecting the dust of melancholy and self-doubt as it settles upon the silence of introspection. Each melody played is another anxiety confronted. Cartwright weaves thought into threads of sound that are then promptly expelled, through quiet and sombre catharsis, into the cold.
As these melodies are dextrously spun out across the foreground, Cartwright’s surrounding environment stirs with the smeared drones of bowed strings. I hear brisk winds and the trickle of adjacent streams; frail wisps of cloud and slithers of harsh sunlight piercing through the blanket of leaves. At one point, drums start to rumble patiently from beneath, perhaps echoing the arboreal rituals that once took place precisely where Cartwright stands, albeit many centuries prior. It’s an incredibly vivid evocation, and as the drones shiver like a cold inward breath, I start to see the emotional release of They Haunted Most Thickly as an act of respiration: inhaling the calm and clarity of the outdoors, ejecting black burden of curdled stress and apprehension. My body is utterly rinsed.