Paleo – Fruit of the Spirit

January 01, 1970

 (Partisan)

 

 

         www.partisanrecords.com/

 

 

Freak-folk artist David
Strackany, aka Paleo, follows up last year’s splendid A View of the Sky album with this cooperative effort that falls a
tad short of that rather superlative release. More on that notion later. David
has settled into a brick and mortar life recently in Iowa City, Iowa, after
criss-crossing the country for a half dozen years living out of his car,
gigging and accepting folks’ generous offers of a couch to crash on. He’s had
songs used in films and even received a congratulatory note from then VP Dick “Face
blaster” Cheney (??) for his massive ’06 songwriting project, “The Song Diary,”
for which he wrote and recorded a song every day, 365 songs consecutively. He’s
now sharing The Blue House in Iowa City with some other artists, kindred souls
no doubt.

 

 

Where David played all the
instruments on Sky, this time out he
called up a baker’s dozen of buddies to back him up. His collaborators, mostly
Midwesterners, gathered in Davenport at the studio of veteran Daytrotter
engineer, Patrick Stolley, to knuckle down for three days of recording, with no
rehearsal or much sheet music to guide them. What could possibly go wrong? On
the plus side, they had an awesome studio of old-timey analogue recording
equipment at their disposal to experiment with, and many other assorted
instruments and bell and whistles to play with during the session. The one
slightly flawed element of Fruit of the
Spirit
might be the seemingly rushed recording of the eleven songs. Perhaps
time was of the essence, but there’s a slight sense of the cake not being quite
baked. Maybe they were working on a very limited budget, or perhaps one-take
producing like Daytrotter and Black Cab Sessions does lead the principals into
a false sense of satisfaction with the quick takes. The end products are a bit
rough sounding and unpolished, leaving a lower-fidelity sound bordering on just
miking a live jam. While this may have been the actual intention, it does a
little injustice to the songs, which are solid, with no shortage of Strackany’s
insightful and brash lyrics.

 

 

“Lighthouse” gets the album off
to a peppy and festive start, with steel drums in the background, sounding a
bit like some misplaced Elliot Smith tune. An organ jumps in with the steel
drum on “Over the Hill and Back Again,” and an upbeat melody that conjures up
Guided By Voices. Part of the oddball and quirky charm of the music is his
wobbly vocals, sometimes struggling for the higher notes and bit off key. “Pharaoh”
slows things down to a cold molasses pace, a delicate and plaintive song with
mournful piano and brushed drums. It gathers you into its somber atmosphere
after a few listens. “Holly Would” is a strum-ful, happy clap-along that
lightens things back up again, and there’s also a toe-tapping cadence to “Buddy
Buddy.” “In the Movies” was a particular favorite, bringing older Pavement
songs to mind.

 

 

 One could do without the discordant cacophonic
clatter of “Poet (Take 1)” and “Poet (Take 2),” the latter being a dressing-down
of narcissistic people who imagine they are poets with “deep” and “heavy”
things to impart.  In their place,
rather, last fall’s Daytrotter takes, “Bird in a Cage” and “Mournful and Slow.”
It’s no contest after comparing the four, and it really would have topped off
the assembled songs with two more gems. If you’re willing to overlook the
slightly raw sound of Fruit, this is
a strong collection of more memorable tunes from the ever creative, fruitful
and spirited mind of Paleo.  

 

        DOWNLOAD: “In the
Movies,”  “Holly Would,” ” Over the Hill
and Back Again.”  BARRY ST. VITUS

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