How does it happen that sometimes a band just seems to stay on the very edge of your field of vision ? Low have been a bit like that for me, there is no excuse they have been around for something like twenty years and have a solid rep but despite owning Secret Name it’s only with the arrival of C’mon that I have finally connected.
Given my ignorance, comparisons with the rest of their works would be foolish but it is hard to see how this collection could be a radical departure, although the band seem to feel that this album returns them to the human and personal after a couple of records that concentrated on more external issues like the Iraq war.
It is a sonically lush and melodic album of simple but still powerful songs. Some tracks like You See Everything and the exquisite Especially You, which for me represents the emotional heart of the album, have carefully judged harmonies and background tambourines that take me back to faded summer landscapes of the late sixties (or at least my hazy memories thereof) although the sentiments here might be more wistful.
Elsewhere, like on Witches and Done, the sounds are more contemporary Americana with Andy Sparhawk’s slightly gravelly vocals, the banjo picking and the fine guitar work. They have also called in a few additional players like Nels Cline on lap steel and guitar, and violinist Caitlin Moe. $20 contains what seems to be an unrealised rage but also the startings of the delicious distorted guitar work, with more than a hint of Neil Young to it, that reappears later on tracks like Majesty/Magic and Nothing But Heart, the latter a slow building smouldering track built around the most minimal of lyrics but rising to crescendo of release.
Here is an album of considerable poise and grace, affecting and enduring, what a shame I didn’t get to them sooner. They are in the UK shortly with a string of dates including one at the Trinity Centre in Bristol – I might just have to roll along….
The video for Try to sleep includes John Stamos (apparently a star from an old ABC sitcom) and model Melissa Haro