Every day seems to bring a new dispatch about the dire state of a world in climate crisis: Species extinction. Rising temperatures. Melting ice sheets. The reports are depressing to the point of despondency: What can individuals do when our fellow citizens, corporations and governments seem content to push the pedal to the floor and accelerate toward an uninhabitable planet?
Singer-songwriter Marian McLaughlin found an answer in last year’s “Lake Accotink.” The Baltimore-based artist wrote the album — named after a Fairfax reservoir that she lived by growing up — as a way to process emotions about “ecological issues that are currently unraveling.”
“There’s a push and pull throughout the album between joy and celebration and concern,” she explains. “It was a way for me to process, think more in depth and give some space to those concepts that I wasn’t really sure what else I could do [about], other than to make my own environmentally friendly effort.”
The result features 18 chamber folk arrangements that find McLaughlin’s melodramatic vocals wringing pastoral poetry out of the battered biosphere over a rich tapestry of guitar, woodwinds and strings. McLaughlin’s stream-of-consciousness approach — in which she used nature hikes as songwriting sessions — turns heady, perhaps academic concepts such as land fragmentation into stirring compositions, as on the eight-minute epic “Modus Operandi.” Inspired by a path around the lake that has gone from dirt to gravel to asphalt, the song illustrates the consequences of human action and inaction.
“I’m not trying to sound reprimanding, I just want to gain an understanding,” she sings. “How do I process all of this progress, and what is at loss from our land, our air, and our sea?”
Show: June 6 at 7:30 p.m. at Dupont Underground, 19 Dupont Cir. NW. $18-$22.