Category Archives: Relevant

Album Review: Derek Webb – ctrl (2012)

I’ve always been in Derek Webb’s court, though I go back and forth on his music. She Must and Shall Go Free made me weep when I first heard it and still does pretty regularly. I’ve had a harder time with his more didactic stuff in recent years, though, partially because I feel like he’s a big fish in a small pond. On Stockholm Syndrome, especially, it seemed like he was reaching for low-hanging fruit.

I was intrigued, though, by the total reset of Feedback and the lower-profile Sola Mi project he did last year, and ctrl totally blew me away. Did not expect this from him. Glad to get to be one of the first to review it.

Webb and producer Josh Moore (who also produced Webb’s 2009 album Stockholm Syndrome) use the same sonic palette for much of ctrl: take one straightforward guitar-and-voice folk-pop tune, add programmed beats and synths, sprinkle in Sacred Harp choral samples. Sometimes the samples are integrated fully into the song, like “Pressing on the Bruise”, where Webb essentially trades verses with the choir over a laid-back groove. Elsewhere they provide sonic texture, elevating the spastic “Attonitos Gloria” to moments of unexpected joy. Still elsewhere full choral verses are added as interludes between songs, as if commenting on what we’ve just heard. Nearly every instance that choir pops up is jarring, and occasionally it comes barreling out of left field at you with the surreal violence of a David Lynch film.

-full review up at RELEVANT Online

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Album Review: Sixpence None the Richer – Lost In Transition (2012)

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Sixpence None the Richer was the first band I fell in love with, back in high school. If not for them, I’m not sure I’d be a musician, a writer, or even a Christian. So this was a special review for me to write.

…the theme of failure plays such a prominent role in Transition that ‘Failure’ is the title of one of its best tracks. “Time is not my friend anymore,” sighs Nash, over Greg Leisz’s haunting pedal steel, before repeating “I’ve failed to make it,” over and over again as the song ends. Elsewhere, the Nash-penned “Should Not Be This Hard” masks its heartbreaking lyrics–about fighting for a failing relationship–with bouncy, sparkly instrumentation. Incidentally, Nash pens nearly half the tunes onTransition, more than any previous album. Her other highlight is the pop-country “Sooner Than Later”, an unsentimental reflection on the death of her father. Victory has never been this band’s M.O., but there’s a humble vulnerability on Transition that shines through more than ever before.

-full review at RELEVANT Online

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Album Review: Bowerbirds – The Clearing (2012)

New one’s up at RELEVANT. Due to an editorial error, it went up a few weeks late.

Bowerbirds’ Philip Moore and Beth Tacular have always been pretty off the grid, both literally and figuratively. Their two previous records of outsider folk had them occupied with their love for each other, nature and the interconnectedness of everything. For the last couple years, though, they’ve gone one step further, living in a trailer in the North Carolina woods while building a cabin with their own four hands. The Clearing, first and foremost, tells that story.

-full review at Relevant Online

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Album Review: The Roots – undun (2011)

My first review for RELEVANT Online went up awhile ago, but my computer’s been acting too fussy for me to get around to posting it here.

undun, while not The Roots’ best album, might be their deepest, and it’s uniquely rewarding. They’ve worked within a very strict set of limitations to craft a truly generous, incredibly thought-provoking album about death, regret and the choices that make a man. Dig deep and it’ll change you.

-full review at Relevant Online

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