Take two veteran artists of the northeast indie scene, surround them with an assortment of long-serving musicians, and what do you get? An album stripped down in its simplicity but one that still manages to spotlight the talents of everyone involved, especially the two principals. Usher himself has been steady presence on the New York power pop circuit for a number years, having released a number of outstanding, if largely ignored, solo albums. Nevertheless, the album’s origins were less than fortuitous; diagnosed with cancer, Usher found himself unable to play any instruments or use his hands at all after his chemo treatments. Nevertheless, he continued to write, recruiting Lisa Burns to put his narratives to music.
Eventually, Usher was able to return to recording, and with the assistance of guitarist Dave Schramm (The Schramms), bassist Sal Maida (Sparks), producer Pau Naumann, engineer Eric Ambel (Del Lords, Nils Lofgren, solo) and others, he and Burns created an album that’s intimate, personal and yet still resolute in its affirmation and assurance. Opening track “Wake Me When Tomorrow’s Here” sounds like the Byrds, circa The Notorious Byrd Brothers, what with its gentle chime and soft harmonies. Mostly though, the duo relegate their songs to the twilight side, be it the dreamy acoustic ballad ”Lost in Transition,” the lonesome piano lament “Wasn’t Born to Belong” or the affecting shimmer and sway of “The World That Rested On Your Word.” Sensitive and sublime, The Last Day of Winter is indeed an album for all seasons.
DOWNLOAD: Wake Me When Tomorrow’s Here,” “The World That Rested On Your Word,” “Wasn’t Born to Belong”