• okkervil river / julie doiron Split (CD, £3.95)

    label: Acuarela

    In a leisurely 39 minutes this album displays modern folk music in both contemplative and ecstatic modes, as a soft tracery of whispers and strums and as a ragged tapestry of trembling strings, simmering organ and tumultuous gusts of distortion. Julie Doiron is formerley of Eric’s Trip and has released 3 subsequent albums on Jag Jaguwar. Doiron’s half of this split - five solo performances recorded at her home in the mornings and evenings of December 2002 - represents her most startlingly intimate and unguarded work yet. Where Doiron’s approach to modern songwriter-based folk is homey and uncluttered, her Jag Jaguwar brethren Okkervil River offer instead something far more turbulent. Building on the sound of their critically-praised Don’t Fall in Love with Everyone You See, this Austin, TX group here mixes skeletal folk, lush chamber pop and supple rock and roll in service of the literate, uncompromising songs of frontman Will Sheff. “He Passes Number Thirty-Three”, a sidelong tribute to missed chances, starts off as delicately as Doiron’s whisper-quietest moments before turning into a contemplative ballad and, just as quickly, a towering prog-soul singalong. And then, once the distortion subsides, the paired murder songs hit and Okkervil River promptly steer this split out of the sun room and onto the chopping block. Coming so quickly on the heels of Doiron’s intimate strummings, these songs (one of them a version of the American traditional “Omie Wise”) are an alarming but aesthetically bracing change, the kind of weird and welcome surprise that only a split CD can fully deliver. But don’t worry, the detour is only brief; and the album’s last track, “Blackest Coat”, quickly ushers the listener, shaken but unharmed, into a tranquil bedroom where moonlight streams through the window, brighter and brighter until everything inside is finally smothered in warmth. Track listing : 1."The Sweetest Eyes (When You Laugh)" – Julie Doiron, 2."Snow Falls in November" – Julie Doiron, 3."The Songwriter" – Julie Doiron, 4."The Wrong Guy" – Julie Doiron, 5."Cancel the Party" – Julie Doiron, 6."He Passes Number Thirty-Three" – Okkervil River, 7."Omie Wise" – Okkervil River, 8."A Leaf" – Okkervil River, 9."Blackest Coat" – Okkervil River, 10."The Sweetest Eyes (When You Laugh)" – Julie Doiron and her children (uncredited hidden track)

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