By Nick Minnott
I’ll probably listen to this album for a while, just as is, not as background music, but as a crafted experience that demands – no – calmly beckons my attention. It’s like a long relationship between an old dog and owner, a familiar gesture and I’m following through the door.
Field Report’s debut album is ghostly. Its lyrics read and sound like more like prose than poetic song structures, and this works to its advantage. The songs are evocative storytelling– something you can sit down and listen to for the sake of listening.
From “The Year of the Get You Alone”:
“Don’t look down now, but this water has a sinister motive / carving out my confidence and flooding my crumbling home”
And yet, once I learned the lyrics, I found myself singing along to choruses as I would with your basic folk anthem. There are clever twists and turns of phrase to deal with this, as in “Taking Alcatraz,” although it would be a spoiler to name the instance.
The writing is methodical in satisfying the necessities of the music, but the music is structurally detached during the slow pacing of each song. This relationship is symbiotic: both elements are simultaneously free flowing and rigid. It’s the best of both worlds, really.
This is best evidenced in “Captain Video,” where a jazzy piano and drum set riff off of each other before the melody is transferred into a guitar and a pedal steel guitar in “Route 18.” These genre diversions make the album all the more enjoyable.
If I had to live to the common trope of comparing Field Report to other music, it’d be A.A. Bondy, Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska, stuff like that. In the same vein (maybe across it?), it can also get a little maudlin. While that’s the point, if one isn’t in the mood, it may not be the best appropriate choice for an active day. I’m glad this came out in time for fall/winter. If you demand a visual, best to pair it with a good window and the right weather – the lyricism, pacing and instrumentation are best saved for snowy day, or a change in the color of the leaves. – (7/10)[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0KNkypHdGE]
Field Report open for Aimee Mann October 3 at the Neptune Theater in Seattle.