Sunday, February 23, 2014


Who knew what to expect from Beck this time out?  He's never quite the same, and this is unlike any other album he's made.  Lush and quiet, the dominate instruments are acoustic guitar, strings, and voice.  Even his singing is new, soft and doubled, with sweet harmonies and a higher range, it's airy and dreamy, Pink Floyd as folk music.

Lyrics float by, songs about morning and moon and light, but the singing has more to say than the words.  I'm sure there are meanings in there, but this is all about the sound, and mostly the sound of his voice.  Hearing his lines drift off skyward in harmony and echo, sweetened by the string arrangements, piano, banjo or whatever fits the mix, is the highlight.  The collection of songs is cohesive, all from the same cloth, all things of beauty.  A couple of numbers do stand out, including Blackbird Chain, with its simple acoustic chords giving away to a kind of late 60's revival at its calmest, a little McCartney and a little CSN.  Heart Is A Drum rolls along with a couple of Becks singing harmony, with rich bass (Stanley Clarke!) and some backwards loops dropping in and out.

The closest Beck's been to this type of music in the past has been the Sea Change album, but he didn't get this specific with the sounds, or carry it through so fully.  And it's also surprising to hear so much emphasis on the vocals, from him or anyone.  A beautiful collection.

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