Saturday, January 28, 2012

Graig Markel - s/t (2012, Recovery)

I became aware of Graig Markel when i saw his band Dead Ship Sailing, at the Ella Street Social Club, in Portland. Apparently he liked the review i wrote of the show, (over here), and was kind enough to get in touch, and to send me a real, honest to goodness vinyl record of his new solo record!

Dead Ship Sailing sounded like The Jesus and Mary Chain being backed by suicide, so imagine my surprise when i unsheathed the vinyl to find a bare-bones, intimate acoustic record. Citing influences such as Nick Drake and Bruce Springsteen, circa 'Nebraska', these 10 songs make me feel like i'm driving through the prairie, in the middle of the night. Its probably winter out, the car window frosted and crystalline. Maybe you can see yr breath?

If you go into this record, thinking about the influences, about the labels, 'folky', 'lo-fi', 'blue-sy' you will miss the point. It will stream by you like headlights headed in the opposite direction. The devil is in the details, here, and when you slow down enough to get to know this collection of confessional ballads, there are treasures to be had, wisdom to be gained. Its like the quiet person at the party, off by themselves, who turn out to be a world traveller. Or perhaps a mystic.

Upon close examination, living with this record over the span of a couple of weeks, using it as company and a crutch to get through lonely nights, his craftsmanship and attention become apparent: the way he swaps out lyrics, rearranges structure, nuances and intricacies that reveal a tasteful ear and years working in the music biz. Graig runs a recording studio in Seattle, Wa. and this whole record was recorded to an analog tape deck. Its got tone out the tailpipe, the guitar playing is nice, not flashy but tasteful, and again, there are nuances that show a talented songwriter, odd discordant chords and subtle overdubs. Add pedal steel licks and the occasional piano stabs to fill in the cracks, and you are left with a nigh-on classic!

The consistent mood and tempo, the tenor of the vocals, create a hypnotic lull, but don't let it lull you into complacency. You can put this record on repeat, you can leave it play for hours and hours, and just let it create a mood, let it stain the air like late-afternoon sunshine.

Highly, highly recommended!

You can preview it over here

i would also like to plug for the vinyl, gorgeously packaged in a raw paper sleeve. It looks, and sounds, amazing!!!

Also, if you are around Seattle, Dead Ship Sailing is playing at The Comet, on Capital Hill, on February 17th.

1 comment:

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