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Altrok Showcase w/ Sean Carolan

CD of The Week

Week of 12/11/23

    A. Savage - Several Songs About Fire (Rough Trade)

    As the frontman and rhythm guitarist of Parquet Courts, Andrew Savage makes a unique impact with his offbeat voice and anxious, but literary persona. The band thrives on energy and tension with songs that shift tempo and tone frequently. Given the dynamic interplay of Parquet Courts, Savage might seem like an odd candidate for a rewarding, acoustic-based solo album. Yet, Savage’s second (both as A. Savage), Several Songs About Fire, is a beguiling collection of songs demonstrating his immense skills as a lyricist and arranger in a different milieu.

    Even for a contemporary singer/songwriter album, Several Songs is on the stripped-down side with Savage’s distinctive vocals and acoustic guitar front and center on most of the tracks. This works well on the opener, “Hurtin’ or Healed” which shuffles along pleasantly while Savage distinctly recalls details of everyday life, such as the font on a legal notice (“the devil’s favorite typeface”) or the feel of a blanket (“dipped into something sacred.”). Many of the lyrics were inspired by Savage’s recent move from New York City to Paris and the melancholy of saying goodbye forms a thematic crux to songs such as “Le Grand Balloon” and “Out of Focus.”

    Despite the spare approach, there is plenty of sonic variety on the album. “Elvis in the Army” effectively pares down the propulsion of Parquet Courts to just guitar and drums while appearances from collaborators/friends such as Dylan Haldey (co-lead vocals on “Mountain Time”) and Euan Hinshelwood (saxophone on “Thanksgiving Prayer”) are tasteful without being predictable. The production by long-time PJ Harvey collaborator John Parish is unobtrusive so the off-kilter observations and deceptive melodies shine through.

    Several Songs About Fire carries the welcome tradition forward of quirky indie rock frontmen (think Stephen Malkmus) using a softer palette to explore reflective material that still bears their idiosyncratic trademarks. The album only reinforces Savage’s status as one of the most distinctive musicians in indie rock and contains a dynamism that far exceeds its volume.
    Review by Sol

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