Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Now Hear This: Editors’ Picks (Spring ’13)

May 03, 2013
The Dead TonguesDesert FireAnt Music
The Dead Tongues
(FireAnt Music)

With Desert — Ryan Gustafson’s  follow-up to 2009′s Donkey, released under his given name — the Durham singer applies his own nuance to classic songwriting touchstones. These 10 tracks waver between moments of nothing-left-to-lose freedom and love-lost misery; this is “fuck it” music in both incarnations of the phrase. The bulk are straightforward folk- and country-inflected rockers, recorded and played loosely but with obvious love. Opener “Call Out to Me” could be Blonde on Blonde-Dylan as done by Beachwood Sparks, piano and guitar lines chasing a compelling descending chord pattern to capture the narrator’s laid-back demise “on a bed of smoke.” On both “No Intentions” and the title track, he cranks up the tension with cathartic bridges using Al Kooper-like organ for fuel. There’s a tendency to tag “Ryan Adams” on any Triangle rocker accenting his sad songs with country and folk elements, but Desert never undercuts its dark themes with self-pity. And so far, Gustafson’s proved he’s a damn fine songwriter, too. — JS


No comments: