(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Monday, June 7, 2010

CD review - The Wailing Wall, The Low Hanging Fruit (2010)

Biblical and philosophical themes suffuse The Low Hanging Fruit, the latest album from the Wailing Wall (AKA Jesse Rifkin). Rifkin brings a Dylanesque voice (both in singing and writing), a Camper Van Beethoven world-folk musical aesthetic, and his own mystical and spiritual mindset.

The songs cross-reference one another in numerous ways: a bit of repeated lyric here, a musical element there. The Low Hanging Fruit shows Rifkin's obsession with detail. Every phrases seems tuned and polished, which contrasts well with his rougher, reedy voice. Nowhere does he sound more like Dylan than on Song, which has musical elements of Lily, Rosemay, and the Jack of Hearts and Girl From the North Country. The lyrics are an allegorical love song.

Dandelion has a Grateful Dead feel, with a touch of Camper Van Beethoven. The twinned guitars harmonize sweetly, creating a retro folk-rock groove. There are some biblical references, but it's essentially a love song:
So, how am I doing? I'm happy I guess,
See my head is brighter and my hair's a mess
And happiness is your soft summer dress
Your belly and breasts...
The lyrical delivery is casual, but each phrase fits together just so.

This flows into Lame Situation, which breaks down the Fall from the Garden of Eden. The music starts with a drone hum and whistle, with a soundscape feel. It's a simple song, with banjo and bass backing the vocal, but it builds nicely. There's some interesting use of static and noise that seems to represent the Fall itself. Rifkin's take is perhaps heretical, but clearly humanist:
I've considered His judgment
And it don't make much sense
This is awfully harsh treatment for a first time offense
Only two people damaged
Only one broken rule
This is awfully cruel
There are plenty of other great songs on The Low Hanging Fruit. The debut single, Bones Become Rainbows, is worth a listen - celebratory and trippy, it's another spiritual piece of the Wailing Wall's theme here.

A nice, lighter wine, like a Régnié Beaujolais (not Nouveau) would pair nicely.

No comments:

Post a Comment