Try Me Bicycles Voicings is a dreamy and delicate offering, even when it tends towards the brooding and melancholy. Such a balance is difficult to strike - in less capable hands, the elements can threaten to weigh themselves down - but the Phoenix-based quartet unquestionably achieves it. Andrew Naylor (vocals/guitar) Jay Novak (bass), Jacob Koller (piano) and Laraine Kaizer (violin) combine folk, indie leanings, and jazz elements to produce a richly textured yet subdued result. Recorded in 2006, and enjoying a North American re-release in the fall of 2008, the album is a series of thoughtful statements gathered together and issued with care.
Must-hear tracks to check out include Lessons on Love and Junk, Big Small, My History Bore a Knife, and The Old Men of Jerome. These songs are representative of a larger collection that leaves no stone unturned and not a note wasted. Or a word - precise and particular lyrics that manage to never stray into fussiness are loosely woven through the whole album in an easy, graceful sprawl.
Lessons on Love and Junk tells of making do and abiding, of things cobbled together as ordinary objects become vehicles for grand sentiments and are internalized and made personal.
Big Small has us flirting with Caesar, Tolstoy, and Icarus myths in a light and easy manner that slips believably around and over the everyday passage of time in solitary lives.
History Bore a Knife seems to explore the awkward juncture when pasts come back to haunt and resolve is steered towards reinvention. The track builds delicately from a sweet Chet Baker-like vocals, with the balanced instrumentation lending perfect depth.
Old Men of Jerome is a sensitive exploration of fictions and legends, personal and shared. Musing expertly on how so much that defines us hangs together on our stories, on what other people tell, on what we reveal, and how much of it any of us are ever held accountable for, it is a brilliant understated album-closer.
These contemplative excursions slide easily into each other in a graceful fluid manner, and theres a warmth and transparency to them that makes this album timeless and effortlessly accessible.
Voicings showcases the intimate writ large on carefully wrought canvasses. These are small songs for cavernous places, that have been paced and spaced to hang together in sophisticated fashion. They can be enjoyed for their individual details as well as for their role in a larger soundscape that is both sweeping and reflective. Im resistant to try and categorize Try Me Bicycle and Voicings, as the offering is unique and the overall appeal extends well beyond whomever they may be likened to. That said, the album is well suited to fans of Nick Drake, Iron and Wine, and Simon and Garfunkel.
9.0 / 10
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