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I went dog-eared into the cinema yesterday to watch ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’. Two hours of unrelentingly bleak Coen Brothers brilliance which exemplifies the struggles of the solo singer songwriter troubadour, as true today as it was in the ‘60’s in which it was set. The conclusion being - if you aren’t Bob Dylan - then really who cares?
This debut from The Beets songwriter fits in with that general thought. He’s good this lad. One part Daniel Johnston, one part Syd Barrett, one part Adam Green. He sings thoughtful songs of varying levels of jauntiness. ‘Lost in the Soup’ showcases the type of tricks he excels at, its all lo-fi strums, strained yet effective vocal delivery and a melody with a more than passing resemblance to Barrett’s ‘Octopus’. The usual faraway influences are in evidence, Bob Dylan and particularly Lou Reed and at times I’m reminded of Phil Ochs especially on ‘Water’. The production is in the lo-fi hand produced style of Jeffrey Lewis and the antifolk movement.
At other points he has the child-like delivery of Jonathan Richman and Daniel Johnston and is often raw and heartfelt. A good album but I’m left with the thought of him playing shows to handfuls of people, dragging his guitar through the freezing city, sleeping on couches and losing peoples cats. Its probably not the case at all, I hope not but the album evokes an image o that kind of lo-fi guy. In any case an unusual album to come out on Captured Tracks but most enjoyable.
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