A nice little project this: Dean Wareham, the voice of Galaxie 500, joins Cheval Sombre to record a selection of ten covers, all themed around Westerns. The material ranges from traditional numbers through Bob Dylan and Townes Van Zandt, all the way up to The Magnetic Fields, and the performances are very nicely balanced.
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He doesn't do all that much these days without his wife (and Britta Phillips is indeed present here) but this is a nice little side project from the Luna, Galaxie 500 and Dean & Britta man alongside lauded composer Cheval Sombre. What the duo have done is take some of their favourite Western themed songs by artists as diverse as Marty Robbins, Ricky Nelson, Bob Dylan and Magnetic Fields and record them in an agreeable dream-pop style.
It's pure Lynchian stuff particular glorious opener 'A Bend in the River' which re-imagines Marty Robbins original in a breathy, dusky style, setting Wareham's quivery voice amidst a fog of reverb. The best tracks follow this template including Grateful Dead's Mountains of the Moon which is truly beautiful thing indeed and once again reminds me that I should check out at least some of their work.
I was slightly concerned that (not being the biggest fan of Western music) that I wouldn't enjoy this but the production style errs more to the twinkling cosmic Americana of the likes of Gene Clark than it does the dusty likes of the original travellers. There are a myriad of nice highlights - the only issue seeming to be is keeping the quality control up. Though the covers are generally well chosen they seem to be going through the motions a bit on the more well known standard 'Wanderin' Star' - maybe tucking into the aforementioned Gene Clark's extensive catalogue may have upped the ante somewhat - but this is still a deeply atmospheric listen.
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