Stream of Consciousness Reviews
by Frank Critelli
Shovels & Rope
Breaking open the plastic, I already know I love this record.
They’ve sharpened. But they’ve maintained the same spirit on O! Be Joyful! The new (but minor) studio tricks they’ve learned haven’t made them slick. That’s a good thing. “Honey, take a bow!”
Shotgun delivery. Chaotic and on point. Apocagospelyptic. Haunting. “We can all get together and share the dread.” Johnny and June. Jack and Meg. Derek and Tom. Peter and Julie. Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks. Springsteen and Patti Smith. This is a whiskey and weed record. It’s familiar but unpredictable. “Gonna take a long walk ‘fore I take my boots off.” Motherfucking metaphorical. This is an important band, with something important to say.
The backing vocals are as good as any anywhere – heart-wrenching beautiful, then fun and willy-wild.
Travel. Sin. Loneliness. Gratitude. Observations. Realizations. What it is. What it was. What it shall be.
Met this guy when we shared a stage in Ithaca, NY, and liked him immediately. Strong quiet type. Manly. Firm handshake – assertive and warm. Working man’s muscles under a seemingly stylish flannel shirt. Rugged, and almost handsome. Young Johnny Cash haircut. Mysterious and poetic in the same way as a seasoned stack of cord wood.
Spoke slowly and with conviction. Had a story to tell, told it plainly and impassively. Dropped a conclusion at my feet that turned to a realization when I bent to pick it up.
Listened to his record on a rainy Sunday morning at home. The music is absolutely consistent with the man: firm, assertive, warm, muscular, rugged, almost handsome, mysterious, poetic. Straightforward acoustic guitar, no-nonsense vocals, honest delivery, instrumentation bolsters the songs appropriately. The songs tell it like it is and let you decide for yourself what it means.
Stream of consciousness comparisons: Jacob Dylan, Jason Isbell, Steve Earle.