Elvis Perkins in Dearland – s/t

elvis

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Elvis Perkins finally has a band to back up his soft-spoken folk leanings, but that isn’t too say that he’s moved entirely away from his original sound; in fact, he hasn’t traveled that far from where he once began his journey into the musical world.  His latest release, Elvis Perkins in Dearland, is just another reminder of how capable a songsmith the man truly is.

Opening the album is “Shampoo,” which starts off with a mellow little progression on the acoustic guitar, as an organ fills out the background.  Suddenly, the band kicks in, and Elvis’ voice comes sweeping in with a slightly more country-fied tinge than most listeners might be used to at this point in his career.  It’s a testament to the man’s capabilities when he’s backed by a complete band, and it’s a phenomenal start, nearly a perfect song.

The next few tracks find Elvis walking the lines of his past, as he slows the numbers down so his voice can unfold before listeners.  You can tell that he’s yearning for more, reaching for more with his voice, which is perhaps the reason why he brought in a complete band for the recording process of this album. Steady percussion fills in the space where Elvis previously was forced to fill it all with his voice.

His trademark six minute song, “Send My Fond Regards to Lonelyville” is just another example of how wonderfully he can craft a song.  Simple strumming typically doesn’t have the lasting power to garner your interest through six minutes, but when accompanied by his voice, and his attention to lyrical details, you find that you are drawn into the depths of the song.  Horn arrangements added midway only build upon the already sound structure of this song.

Each time you listen to his voice, it seems to waver just a bit, much like Devandra Banhart, but with a less aggravating persona behind it all.  It’s surely the focal point of each song, but his ability to maneuver in and out of different pitches is what makes the entire set of songs listenable, as he clearly understand exactly when to pull back.  It’s an emotional attack on the listener, and it succeeds on almost every level.  Listening, your drawn into the strength of the songs, but your mostly attracted to his voice, and that feeling is certainly not fleeting.

You’ll find that every song along the way has extra details added in to create an ornate composition.  The folk stylings are merely just the beginning, as the backing band here has fulfilled the promise of Elvis Perkins, pushing his songs far beyond anything he’s written to date, and the listeners will be rewarded time and time again, as each listen unfolds new little secrets.