Maxine Funke writes songs for the quiet corners of your dreams and fears, where her whispers float upward like warm air. Accompanied by an acoustic guitar and an odd noise here or there, she evokes tenderhearted singer-songwriters like Sibylle Baier and Vashti Bunyan, but also the subtle and strange songs of fellow New Zealander Alastair Galbraith, with whom she performed in the short-lived $100 Band.
"One Step" opens the second side of Funke's third album, Silk, with tape hiss and a quickly picked guitar pattern that tangles and untangles itself as her words wade through the static debris. "I can feel death on the winter air," she sings, lingering on the word "death." "I know the gifts of spring are coming in the year but it / Doesn't mean I'm not scared, doesn't mean I'm not scared and it / Doesn't mean that sometimes I don't get scared."
The way she breaks apart the chorus — but it, and it — feels like ellipses conveying the uncertainty of the path forward. As we draw near 2018's end, Maxine Funke breathes a mantra as we face broken promises and hopeful hesitations through the seasons of next year: "One step ahead, one step ahead, one day, one day forever I'm gonna be one step ahead."
Silk comes out Dec. 14 via Feeding Tube.