Mary Timony has always dealt in dichotomy. She dubbed her brand of scabrous, noisy guitar riffage and vehement feminist rants Helium. When Helium fans expected more of the same in 1997, she gave them an airy, contemplative fairy tale titled The Magic City. When fans embraced Helium's change of direction, Timony closed shop and went on an extended hiatus. And when she finally returned in 2000, it was as a solo artist with the stripped-down, wide-eyed wonder of Mountains, an album that celebrated the intersection of baroque folk and indie prog in the most elemental atmosphere imaginable.
With Timony's latest lightly titled album, The Golden Dove, she moves back toward a fuller, denser sound -- a decision made just after Mountains. "It was good to do Mountains sparsely," she says from her Boston home. "This time, I just didn't want to hold myself back. I just wanted to do lots of sounds. That's what I enjoy the most: coming up with different sounds and melodies."
To Timony, the most amazing thing about The Golden Dove is the speed with which the album was completed. "The whole process took maybe two or three weeks," she says with an awed laugh. "I usually record over a period of months."
And what about the fantasy streak that seems to color her recent lyrics? "Lyrics are weird. It's hard to put my finger on where that stuff comes from," she says. "Reading does help me write lyrics, but I hate taking myself too seriously as a lyric writer. I definitely like using metaphors, which are a lot of the things that people might think of as fantasy. I like images that sound like they're from folk songs or the Bible or hymns." Amen.