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Thanksgiving - The River

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Artist: Thanksgiving

Album: The River

Label: Hive-Fidelity

Review date: Aug. 10, 2005

The River is the latest full length from Portland-based songwriter Adrian Orange, a.k.a. Thanksgiving. At barely 20 years old, Orange has already released four LPs, a hand full of EPs, and is quickly becoming one of the most prolific and noteworthy voices in the indie-folk world. Whereas past Thanksgiving releases were steeped in K-records style quiet melancholy, The River roars to life with drums, electric guitars, banjos and keyboards. Needless to say, this is Orange’s biggest endeavor yet.

It’s also a departure from Orange’s usual dour self. Even the title, when lined up with previous Thanksgiving releases (Nothing, Welcome Nowhere) stands out in its optimism. For fans who have come to expect Orange to exorcize his demons with his acoustic guitar, The River may seem a bit too even-tempered. Songs flow into the next with little distinction, with only Orange’s rich voice and gift for melody bestowing songs individual flavor.

The opening title track begins the record on a tender note, one of the few occurrences of acoustic guitar. Orange sings half-wearily, half-proud, “I lit a candle on both ends / and I have to hold it the whole time.” Much has been made of Orange’s lyrics, and in this respect The River keeps in line with the previous Thanksgiving EP The Ghost and the Eyes with Trees in the Ground Outside the Window, masquerading reflections on relationships while marveling natural forces.

The nervousness and lack of cohesion that often plague Orange in concert is nowhere to be heard on his recorded material, where his confidence belies his youth. At just over a half hour, The River sounds – more so than any Thanksgiving record – as a singular work. While so much of the Thanksgiving songbook contemplates tiny moments, it seems right that Orange is able to wrap such a complex album in such a small package.

By Jon Pitt

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The Ghost and the Eyes with Trees in the Ground Outside the Window

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