A mature-feeling selection from Jaye Bartell. Third album In A Time Of Trouble, A Wild Exaltation was recorded in live sessions in Bartell’s home town, with pleasant details like chimes in an open window adding to the crystal-clear band recordings. Features Ahleuchatistas and Angel Olsen on guest spots. Out on Sinderlyn.
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Slow, sleeping country music is Jaye Bartell’s game plan here: fill your empty room with nice strums and let the band fill in around the corners, creating something emotive but not overwhelming. With a kind of lethargic melodic energy a la Kevin Morby, his songs on ‘In A Time of Trouble A Wild Exultation’ (phew) are lovely but don’t point attention to it, preferring to keep the flourishes minimal as the intertwining guitars spark together subtleties.
It starts to make sense to me on “Give Erin A Compliment”, which sees Bartell duet with certified world’s greatest songwriter Angel Olsen; this slow, subliminal tune opens up ever so gradually in a way few songwriters could have the patience for, the snoozy slide guitar sounding like someone stretching their arms on their way out of bed. “The Wilderness” and its wobbling country guitar leans into a shrugging melodies and observational lyrics that mirror particular moments in the Smog back catalogue -- people-watching, Bartell snarks with sentiment.
His light and cheeky tone makes him a writer of secret gravity: “Army of One” is a lovely, simple love song about the very simple experience of being lonely and then being together. It opens on this simple, repetitive strand of words: “My army of one was my favourite army -- nobody was in the army but me.” These kind of lines never feel quite serious or quite a joke -- rather, they’re emotive neutralities from a songwriter who sounds sage and silly and never quite decided on himself. It's a wonderful record -- so simple, so hushed, but it's tied me up in knots.
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- In A Time Of Trouble, A Wild Exultation by Jaye Bartell
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