Essential New Music: Antietam’s “Intimations Of Immortality”

There are bands with a bit of history, and then there’s Antietam. Tara Key and Tim Harris founded the band in 1984 and named it for the American Civil War’s bloodiest one-day battle; it’s been more than a quarter-century since the addition of drummer Josh Madell solidified their lineup. But there’s nothing static or stale about Intimations Of Immortality, their first album in six years. Known strengths—Key’s explosive guitar and pithy melodies, her partners’ propulsive rhythms—mix it up with previously untapped resources. Turns out they know some pretty strong string and brass players, and despite deep Kentucky roots, they’ve never let bluegrass into their music until now. But Key’s voice, ragged and unabashed, remains the emotive heart of Antietam’s music. It’s the ideal vehicle for songs that express immortal yearnings in the face of irrefutable evidence that the reaper comes for everyone and everything you know.

Bill Meyer