Although the name of White
Denim’s new album is simply D, a more
deserving title might be “B” for the effort put into the Austin band’s fourth full-length and second
on one-to-watch label Downtown Records. Starting with grass-fed jams “It’s
Him!” and “Burnished,” White Denim’s music is as Americana as its name,
pristine in its pursed vocals and fraying with the rebel guitar work of
frontman James Petralli who plays a gentle balance of tug-and-war with his two
responsibilities to give each equal amounts of TLC.
Third track “At the Farm”
delves deeper into the rambling road trip of White Denim’s instrumentals with a
summery, sunny disposition that would make it a perfect track for a Cameron
Crowe soundtrack – however, it’s not until “Street Joy” that the hinted
potential of D hits center stage.
Moving beyond mid-fret board, White Denim experiments with swallows of
cutthroat indie melancholy with tearful fingerwork so eloquently expressed on
the slide guitar.
But the moment is brief and
fleeting as White Denim move back into their comfort zone for much of the rest
of the ten tracks, which self-consciously distracts from the beauty discovered
when they take more musical risks. The guitar work on later number “Drug” again
expertly illuminates Petralli’s heightened state of music appreciation but
mastery of one element that is rinsed and repeated simply gives listeners the
unwanted side affect of déjà instead of moving forward and progressing through
The near-end track “Is and Is
and Is” redeems D with a potent vocal
output not yet seen by Petralli whereby he gets the guts and glory to let a
soft rage temper his rib cage and belts out a guttural headshaking howl, a calm
before the storm that only makes the lightning bolt moments more empathetic. If
only D could have been for more
“daring” tracks like these on the album.
Joy,” “Is and Is and Is” SELENA FRAGASSI