The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Review | Adrianne Lenker delivers emotional folk-rock album with ‘Bright Future’

Photo courtesy of Genius
Album cover of “Bright Future” by Adrianne Lenker.

Rating: 10/10


Adrianne Lenker never ceases to amaze the music world. With the release of her eighth studio album “Bright Future,” Lenker further cements herself as one of the best lyricists in the game.

In a post on Instagram where she explained the project’s meaning, Lenker said she produced the album with her friend, Philip Weinrobe, who also took part in the creation of her album “songs and instrumentals.”

Lenker emphasized how much this new batch of songs meant to her as this album had been in the works for nearly two years. Made with a group of close friends and a simple tape recorder, Lenker thanked her circle of people who worked alongside her and the fans who listened to her music.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

Lenker wrote in the Instagram post: “I am humbled and grateful to work with masters — people who have been dedicated to their crafts so whole-heartedly and unflinchingly. People who teach me about music and life.” 

“Bright Future” consists of 12 songs, encapsulating an expansive story of emotion and poetry. Lenker delves into her well-established genre of folk rock while experimenting with sound and instrumentals. This album covers the meaning of memories, and Lenker uses her outstanding lyrics to put this concept into words.

The album opens with the delicate and touching piano of “Real House.” The audio in the instrumental combined with Lenker’s mumbles create an intimate setting for her narration of growing up and speaking to her mother who restrained emotion her entire life. Her lyrics don’t follow a linear path but instead flow into one another, building a complex web of intense subjects. 

“I’m a child humming/ Into the clarity of black space/ Where stars shine like tears on the night’s face/ Blue cool wind,” Lenker sings.

Lenker additionally adds a new rendition of “Vampire Empire,” a recent hit song by her band Big Thief. Lenker’s version does not follow the band’s raw and deep take but has a strong acoustic and folk presence. It’s a very enjoyable song for Big Thief fans who loved the original version.

“No Machine” is another wonderful song that touches on love and the desire to never let go of your partner. Lenker incorporates her acoustic guitar and the technique of fingerpicking, as heard in the delicate touches of the instrument. 

This song is heavy with metaphors and descriptions of how it feels to be in love. Her harmonies feel like a weighted blanket, a warm sensation that one feels when around one’s partner. 

“Dragonfly, clouds are rolling by/ The wind across my back, I feel the shiver/ Drive around, live from town to town/ To the ocean of your love, I am the river,” Lenker sings.

One of the album’s best moments is “Sadness As A Gift,” an intimate track that incorporates a weeping violin. Lenker sings about how it feels to see time pass so quickly while missing an old lover.

She addresses the importance of growth and observation —two key traits needed to let go of the past. The narration of a breakup is referenced throughout the track and is alluded to in lyrics like “I don’t know what I’d do without you.” 

“Been searching for your eyes/ All I see is blue skies/ And that old man beats his crooked cane/ It’s time to let go,” she sings.

Lenker explores the meaning of life through the track “Fool.” She sings about imagining the many different lives she could share with one person.

“We could be friends/ You could love me through and through/ If I were him/ Would you be my family too?” 

She additionally references the different people in her life and their whereabouts in a fun and spontaneous manner. Her tempo and upbeat instrumentals make this track an enjoyable listen as we understand how she symbolizes her inner circle. 

“Tommy had twins/ Kenna and Louis tied the knot/ Zoe and B built their house on the spot,” Lenker sings.

The album finishes with “Ruined,” a devastating track in which Lenker sings about a relationship that she had sunk too deep into. She narrates the process of reminiscing on a relationship that she could not get enough of. Lenker mentions that even when the old lover never gave her any answers, she still kept their trinkets near her.

“You just gave me an amethyst/ From your jeweled vest as you cried,” Lenker laments.

Much like every piece of music that Lenker has created, she circles back to her overall metaphor of everything coming to an end. This symbol of inevitable death is referenced in her verses on environmental collapse and relationships breaking apart. Yet, even with time cutting everything short, Lenker makes it clear that she will continue to find admiration in everything she sees.

Lenker’s lyrics in “Bright Future” are emotionally clear and take you by surprise, leaving you to think about your own life and experiences once her song slows to an end. 


[email protected] 

More to Discover
ILLordle: Play now