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

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

CD review - The Lonely Forest, The Lonely Forest (2010)

Lead singer John Van Deusen's voice wafts across the songs on The Lonely Forest EP like the ghost of Michael Stipe, but there's a core of clarity. Van Deusen wants to be understood and to reach the listener. He sounds earnest and humble on this small debut offering. At first hearing, the music is direct indie rock, but progressive art rock sounds are lurking around the edges, adding complexity.

The EP is bookended with two versions of Turn Off This Song and Go Outside. The opener is electric, with walls of jangly guitars, a melodic bass line, and a straight ahead drum part. The vocals are sincere and self effacing:
And guys in bands
With vintage shirts and hundred dollar pants
Often think we do what no one can
And see ourselves above the rest
When faced with truth
I realize that there is nothing I can do
I'm out of talent or gift to bring
That is greater than the orphan or the song she sings...

Turn off, turn off the song
Find someone to love
Turn off the song
You can listen to it later, go outside...
The acoustic version is a very similar arrangement, just a little sadder sounding. Having the pair of versions sends the message that the Lonely Forest just wants to have their own corner of the scene to play in.

Ramshackle House builds on top of an electronic whine/hum that gives this songlet an experimental feel. It serves as an intro to I Don't Want Live There, which could pass for an outtake from REM's Murmur. Lyrically, it's too direct to convince anyone that it's REM, but the sound is right on. The start is simple, but it slowly builds a sense of majesty.

My favorite track is Let It Go. The chord changes for the verse mirror Pink Floyd's Learning to Fly, but the real inspiration seems to be And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead. The opening guitar sets an off beat rhythm that serves as a progressive foundation. The drum work is perfect, especially during the wave building bridge. This song shows the promise that the Lonely Forest has some interesting musical ideas to explore in the future.

A debut EP is effectively just a demo. This EP was produced by Chris Walla (Death Cab For Cutie) and serves as a tease for their upcoming album, Arrows (due in early 2011). For now, I'll pair this with a green tea, maybe with a touch of mint.

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