Wednesday’s Curdled Beauty | Pitchfork

Hartzman describes herself as an introvert, someone who will sit in the van before a show to grab a moment of solitude, even if it means freezing her ass off. “When you have a personality like that, it’s really easy to find time to read,” she notes. “If you don’t stay inspired by other people and just rely on the shit that’s in your own head, you’re gonna run out, because you only have so much experience.”

At her core, she is a collector of scraps, and on “Quarry” she carefully weaves scenes from her own family’s history with inspiration from the cartoonist Lynda Barry’s illustrated novel. Cruddy, a perversely cruel tale of girlhood populated by heartfelt and hardscrabble characters. “They have scoliosis from constant slumps in misery,” Hartzman sings with tenderness. “Flat parts on their crew cuts from layin’ their heads on their knees.”

As the sun begins to set, we exit the park and make our way through the bizarre combination of bespoke suits, joyless carriage horses, and M&M store tourists that make up midtown Manhattan. Hartzman is reminded of the HBO show How to With John Wilson, which builds strange, funny stories out of everyday mundanities like scaffolding and throwing out batteries. “Being sensitive to that stuff makes life so much more wonderful,” she says. “You’re capturing a moment that maybe would have gone unappreciated had someone not slowed down their brain and noticed.”

The intermingling of humor and sadness is what Hartzman loves about country music too. “In the South, it’s impossible to avoid pop country radio, and for a long time I thought that was all country,” she says. “But once I found Lucinda Williams and outlaw country, the whole world of songwriting opened up.” Rat Saw God was informed by country storytellers like Tom T. Hall, Loudon Wainwright III, and Richard Buckner. Talking about Buckner, she says, “He’s a master of putting two words together that make no sense next to each other, but then you think about it for a second and realize that it’s perfect. That’s a magic power I want to have.”

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