BY MISCHA PEARLMAN
Proof isn’t needed to show that independent music continues to thrive in this post-digital age, but New Secrets offers up plenty more anyway. A collaboration between Shrimper Records boss Dennis Callaci and influential Omaha singer-songwriter Simon Joyner, it contains eleven raw, ragged and impassioned songs full of old-fashioned heart and soul. Not that that should be surprising – Joyner has been cited as a major influence on fellow Omahan Conor Oberst, and that gentle ache that defines Bright Eyes’ entire catalogue is here in abundance.
Listen, for example, to the forlorn tones of “Tender Came By”, its sad country heartstrings breaking one by one, second by second. It’s a modern yet anachronistic lament that’s instrumentally sparse but full of emotional power, a combination which the pair seem to have worked out perfectly. On opening track “Mary”, their cracked, melancholy voices duet in unison over a simple plucked melody that sounds like falling rain, before things take an even darker turn on the near-death march of “Old Man In The Rain”. “Let’s Make History Bleed” not only has a superb title but, over a simply strummed refrain, glowers magnificently with both menace and meaning. The album ends with the sweet lilt of “There Will Be A Time”, a hopeful yet sad song that, like this record, looks both forwards and backwards simultaneously.
There are no tricks here, no fancy production, no gimmicks – just pure and simple songwriting at its very best. When it comes down to it, that’s all there needs to be.
DOWNLOAD: “Tender Came By”, “There Will Be A Time”, “Let’s Make History Bleed”