Over the past few years much has been made of this notion of ‘hauntology’ within the pages of The Wire, generally in regards to more outré electronic releases on the Ghost Box label or by artists like Buriel and Phillip Jeck. Stylistically, Sarah June’s music has nothing in common with these artists. She is a singer-songwriter of the gothic folk variety. On “This is My Letter to the World”, however, her songs parallel those works said to be ‘hauntological’ in that she draws inspiration from the past, approaching it in a mournful manner, while realizing something spectral in our present times.
With ample amounts of reverb, June creates a lonesome dream-like atmosphere to spin her haunting vignettes. The opening track “We Lurk Late”, which incorporates excerpts of the late Gwendolyn Brooks poem “We Real Cool”, sets the overall tone of the album with June singing, “This town is haunted, I feel right at home.” In other songs, such as “Charlotte” and “Radio Wave”, she sings of a transformative ghostly presence as though it’s a commonplace occurrence. In June’s hands, Prince’s “When Doves Cry” and Elvis’ “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You” are also transformed. She is able to extract the melancholic heart of these songs in her stripped down versions. Perhaps her most achingly beautiful moment, though, is on “The Illustrated Man” where she tells of a supernatural circus adventure with stunning poignancy.
June’s child-like voice, somewhere along the lines of a more subdued Joanna Newsom, adds a further otherworldly quality to her choice of covers and the rest of “This is My Letter to the World”. Her voice, though, may be a roadblock that some may find difficult to get around. This would be unfortunate, as June has crafted a captivating album ripe for late night and repeated listening. 7/10 -- David Perron (14 January, 2009)