Edith Lake Wilkinson was a talented painter who graced the Provincetown, Massachusetts, art scene in the early 20th century and created a remarkable portfolio of work. Wilkinson was committed to an asylum in 1924—thanks in large part to a corrupt family lawyer who objected to Wilkinson’s lesbian encounters—and was never heard from again. All of her artwork and other worldly possessions were shipped to relatives in West Virginia and sat in an attic for four decades.
A new documentary, Packed in a Trunk: The Lost Art of Edith Lake Wilkinson, delves into the life and times of this under appreciated artist, and singer-songwriter and uke player Danielle Anderson, known professionally as Danielle Ate the Sandwich, has crafted a lovely 11-song collection that functions as the film’s soundtrack. (Wilkinson’s great-niece, Jane Anderson, co-wrote and appears in this film homage, which was directed by co-writer Michelle Boyaner.)
Haunting and spare, delicate and evocative, hopeful and uplifting, The Drawing Back of Curtains is an engaging and powerful work that shines a light on Danielle’s gorgeous vocals and ruminative lyrics.
Using a myrtle Mya-Moe baritone ukulele for much of the songwriting and recording, Danielle mines the darkness and light of her subject’s life to create an album with great emotional range. There are dramatic, sweeping passages to go along with quiet, meditative moments; colorful, lighthearted sections to balance the more subdued, solemn elements.
“I’m doing my best just to stay standing,” she sings on the fragile, plaintive “Coming Back Down,” her heartfelt singing accompanied only by the rueful strums of her baritone. On the instrumental “Change for the Better,” a mournful violin swirls atop her gentle uke fingerpicking. For the sweet and simple love song “Still by Your Side,” she makes lilting use of a spruce-top Mya-Moe tenor. The epic seven-minute closer, “Something Different,” slowly builds from tender ballad to majestic anthem, a fitting end to a stirring and poignant album.
The Wilkinson film premiered in January at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, to overwhelmingly positive reviews, and this enchanting soundtrack serves as a vital contributor to the movie’s emotional resonance.