Thursday, October 8, 2009

Great Lake Swimmers' "Lost Channels": Music Review

Recorded along the Thousand Islands bordering Canada and the US, this sounds like a riparian pastoral suite. Tony Dekker leads this hushed band, amping up to current Wilco or mid-period REM volume on the first three and the fifth songs. These don't display the power of Dekker's soft quaver as much as their standard repertoire of quieter, slower, melancholy tunes.

Dekker and band understandably wanted to shake up their sound on this fourth record. The songs that are louder, however, seem nondescript next to ones such as "Concrete Heart" which despite the lyric sheet that makes the words look nearly indecipherable in size and color, still stick with you in simple poetry. The album sinks in as it progresses, and the later songs return to the earlier albums such as "Ongiara" and "Bodies and Minds" with a chamber-folk setting that adds depth subtly. GLS has progressed as the band coalesced to flesh out the low-fi, skeletal, haunting sound of the self-titled debut, and despite the added fullness here on #4, I still prefer the more burrowed, hibernating feel of the softer songs that wrap you under layers.

This is not a record to blast. It's suited for introspection, rain, and waking up or settling down. We all need such music however raucous other CDs on our shelves speak to other moods. It took me a while to get used to Dekker's resolutely steady pace of singing and playing, but this will comfort those in the mood for music that makes you turn inward. How he and his band manage to do this without seeming pitiful or self-absorbed is a difficult quality to explain, but I think more often than not, this record succeeds in separating the fine line on the right side, between twee and depth, pose and insight. (Posted to Amazon US 10-8-09)

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