Storyteller and the Gossip Columnist
The second album from Portland based Krist Krueger and friends, Southerly, now a fully formed band, have created here not what I would necessarily describe as a “unique” sound but instead a brilliantly arranged and orchestrated culmination of styles.
Opening track, Visage Sans Expression, sounds half like a standard modern folk song and half like Clint Mansell’s soundtrack for Requiem for a Dream which hints at what is about to follow throughout the rest of the album. That being, wonderfully put together pop-acoustic songs which often sound very simplistic until you pay attention to what’s going on in them.
On A Coarse Design, you realise that this easy on the ear guitar song also has a very interesting and intricately constructed bass line and what I find most appealing is that the accompanying backing vocals are just enough to create effect but not so prominent to distract from the main vocal line. It’s this attention to detail that really goes towards what makes this album great.
The delicate and pleasantly discordant guitar motifs are something that recurs on a lot of the songs, along with pleasantly meandering bass lines. This is accompanied in How to Be a Dreamer by syncopated piano and guitar chords which underline what I suppose could be called a chorus although Southerly often strays away from the standard verse-chorus-verse form.
Amongst the pleasant guitar plus vocal style songs, there are also shorter instrumental additions such as the tension building predominately piano based, Pistols in Paradise which sounds almost like the music you’d hear underneath a melodramatic silent movie.
If I had to recommend just one song to listen to from this album it would be Dreams that Make Men Free. Not only does it contain some of the most poignant lyrics but it draws together many of the features that collectively make this album appealing, the wonderfully odd motifs, the unexpectedly dissonant mid-section which quickly resolves itself into pleasant acoustic vocal melody which all the way through is punctuated with another lovely discord between voice and trumpet on the first line of each chorus.
Storyteller and the Gossip Columnist have the same sort of attention to detail as an Adem album but with all the charm of songs from artists like Liam or Neil Finn, or Ruarri Joseph. Definitely a must for anyone that likes, interesting, upbeat happy songs but which have a little more meat on their bones than your average singer/songwriter offering.