You could forgive guitarist Thalia Zedek for getting weary. Not only has our nation’s public discourse been enervating for the past few years, but Zedek’s been working full-tilt, releasing more than an album a year between her eponymous band and the dark but equally charged E. While Fighting Season offers some lamentation, some dismay, and some restrained guitar work, the hints of fatigue are misdirection. Zedek remains in the thick of it, drawing from songs written around the 2016 election, and knowing when to speak softly and when to carry a big guitar.

The title track explains the album’s conceptual center. The fighting season makes no sense, and the lack of reason for contentiousness stands as a simple fact, with nothing more behind it. Zedek’s response recognizes that running, hiding, fighting or even loving are all viable options. A darkness, rather than a flexibility, permeates the song; you can do what you want, not because all options are good, but because everything’s turned sour anyway. Guitar fills much of the disc with open, controlled lines that remain shadowy despite the spaces. When Zedek reaches her frustration lyrically, she turns to her playing to get the rest of her expression across, allowing for a conversation between her singing and instrumental work.

“Bend Again” works similarly. The single-note pattern that opens the album suggests the world-weariness that Zedek resists. In this case, the struggle is both internal and external, as she refuses rescue (while apparently needing it), even while confronting outside enemies. As with “Fighting Season,” the guitar picks up the energy when the lexical content reaches its limit. It’s an effective approach to songwriting that could wear out with overuse, but Zedek avoids falling into stylistic redundancies.

“War Not Won” touches ground similar to that in “Bend Again,” with Zedek realizing that the battles aren’t over, but she’s more open to help. Rather than turning frustration into guitar riffs, she lets the viola do its somber work. As much as the album directly addresses combat, much of it has more to do with perseverance than resistance (though admittedly the former is sometimes a species of the latter). As soon as you feel that way, she picks up the tempo on a track like “The Lines,” where she never quite unleashes the thing straining to get free.

Zedek can go dark and she can go noisy, and she could rely on her guitar chops to carry about any record she makes. Fighting Season instead succeeds on the strength of its restraint, and Zedek and her band’s ability to shape each song to its particular needs and moods. The whole album participates in a larger conflict, and the artists never lose that idea even in the quieter moments. By the time it finishes with the more assertive “The Tower,” the group’s taken us through a process of empathy and consolation, a reminder that while we’re still in the fighting season, there are reasons to not tire out.

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