John Darnielle's got this whole human condition thing down. A songwriter with an endless supply of empathy and a thesaurus poetry brain, he's written some of the most thoughtful and introspective songs in the indie rock canon, examining up close the hidden realities of loneliness. He started off all basic, recording on old-school tracking machines -- the tape hiss was an additional instrument to his typical set up of acoustic guitar and hyper-active vocal. He called it 'mid-fi', because of how essential it was to the process; with the passing of time, he's given his words and chords access to studio arrangements, delivering records with higher concepts and the occasional case study. Recent releases Beat the Champ and Goths have compared the lives and communities of wrestlers and rockers, offering specific but universally touching thoughts on what it's like to belong, or just want to.
Darnielle might be best known for his mid-career records, which delivered immensely poignant aphorisms in more traditional folk and rock set-ups. All Hail West Texas is a straightforward record that started to see his canny and kind turn of phrase develop. The Sunset Tree, a record about personal sufferings, contains some of his most anthemic work, including the banner statement "This Year", a singalong that reinforces both the intelligence and accessibility of Darnielle's output. His work is for everyone who's ever felt something inexplicable and needed it spoken aloud.