Spun: The Decemberists

By Garth Paulson

The Hazards of Love is a unique album in both its composition and lyrics. Like predecessor The Crane Wife, the album tells a story reminiscent of something you might hear from a bard while drinking mead at a medieval tavern — if it was equipped with electric guitars.

The Hazards of Love is the story of two lovers, Margaret (voiced by folk luminary Becky Stark of Lavender Diamond) and William (Decemberists lead singer Colin Meloy). Margaret finds herself pregnant and enters the forest near her city to find William, a shape-shifter who dwells there. The Forest Queen, William’s adoptive mother (voiced by Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond) becomes jealous and takes it upon herself to oppose their love. A wicked and murderous villain also gets involved and threatens the couple’s happiness.

Unlike its predecessor, electrical instrumentation plays a bigger part in The Hazards of Love. Instead of watering down the acoustic instruments, it is used to help contrast situations and characters. The result is a richly eclectic album.

While ultimately tied together by the story line, each track is unique and can easily stand alone. From the hauntingly beautiful “Won’t Want for Love (Margaret in the Taiga)” to the spooky carnivalesque sound of “The Hazards of Love 3 (Revenge!)” and the rock- opera-inspired “The Queen’s Rebuke/The Crossing” The Hazards of Love has all the charm of a high sea chanty, but without the scurvy.

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