David Lowery – The Palace Guards

January 01, 1970

(429
Records)

 

www.429records.com

 

Southern
gothic. World. Alternative. Punk. Rock. Folk. Country. Blues. Rhythm &
blues. Even some raga or ill-advised hip-hop. If it’s a genre, David Lowery’s
probably dipped a toe into it. Following years of success, disconnect, critical
acclaim, derision, and rekindled belonging – as the main man in Camper Van
Beethoven and Cracker – this marks Lowery’s first solo outing. A foot-stomper
if there ever was one, “Raise ‘Em Up Honey,” delivers the first blow. The
harmonica swing brings Blonde On Blonde to mind. Canned folk-country
lines about “Going up the mountain” strike reminiscently of Cracker’s first
outing. But that eponymous debut boasted folk-country throwbacks (“St.
Cajetan,” for one) that were channeled through a stripped-down rock trio that
worked with the grungy haze of 1992. This feels more genuine, if a little less
inspired.

 

Lowery’s
always been dinged for having either a snotty or affected way of singing. More
often than not, it was the snotty, affected things he said that deserved the
label. But he’s always had a distinctively 
mild sneer since his Camper Van days. He sounds best when buried under
reverb, still comprehensible, but lost amid a landscape of hums. “Deep
Oblivion” is a dreamy soft strummer, pairing the vocals with echoing slide
guitar and cello. It’s a gorgeous rumination on god knows what, right up there
with “Sweethearts” or “Big Dipper”. While he’s still got a great, raspy shout
(“Baby, All Those Girls Meant Nothing To Me”), Lowery’s at his best when
tapping into something honest, and maybe a little sad. But just like there’s a
thin line between clever and stupid, there’s an even thinner line between
beautiful and sappy. And by himself, with less to prove or nothing to live up
to, David Lowery’s in the right place.

 

DOWNLOAD: “Deep Oblivion,” “The Palace
Guards” ZACH BLOOM

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