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Widowspeak - Almanac

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Artist: Widowspeak

Album: Almanac

Label: Captured Tracks

Review date: Feb. 4, 2013

Widowspeak’s Almanac is an ambitious peregrination across time and musical landscape, paying gentle yet earnest homage to widely divergent sources of inspiration. Muted bass and tremulous Telecasters send listeners rollicking back to post-war classic pop while rare moments will have you cratedigging in your brain for dare I say Nirvana and The Doors?

“Perennials” is an astonishing and masterly debut track, from the initial pluck of Robert Earl Thomas’s jangling strings and twinkling of rain through to the cantering and cacophonous coda. The sentimental croon of Molly Hamilton only adds confection and sunshine to an already-addictive guitar-driven hummable melody, but as she so sweetly sings, “Nothing lasts long enough.”

In keeping with the titular theme, many lines feel lifted from a charmingly archaic farmstand reference, brimming with timeless yearning and folksy idioms. Child-like or wickedly provincial at times, the results are oh so heartland Americana. The captivating guitar hooks both swing and lope, adding alternative and post-rock abstraction to otherwise dreamy throwbacks.

While the first half of the album churns through layers of hazy funk and minstrel-esque pub folk, our intermission (the title track) seems like a dreamy church organ re-imagination of My Bloody Valentine’s “Touched” (now with less whale). Standout tracks on the breezier latter half include “Devil Knows” with its drum machine-style beat, ’90s-alt frequencies and bluesy lyrics, and “Minnewaska” a campfire evensong about an Upstate lake complete with painted-on Oklahoma cowgirl effect.

Almanac, on the whole, is warmer, more confident and polished than Widowspeak’s self-titled entrée. Enthusiasts along with those on the fence may well find themselves bewitched.

By Erin Leigh Zimman

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