Singer/songwriter David Berman of Silver Jews, playing with some guys from the band Woods, creates an album that is both cynical and bright. The conglomerated band is clearly going for Americana, what with the band being named after a line from America The Beautiful, but it largely eschews the standards and tropes of the genre, leaning more close to indie folk.
This is an album that’s all about depression and loss, with songs titled “All My Happiness is Gone,” “Darkness and Cold,” “Nights That Won’t Happen,” and “Maybe I’m the Only One For Me.” And lines like “lately I seem to meet strangers wherever I go” and “I try to drown my thoughts in gin/I find my worst ideas know how to swim.”
But it doesn’t feel morose. Belying the down depth of the lyrics is the music–relatively upbeat, gentle Americana and country. Toe-tapping music, even. There’s even a join-in chorus for “Margaritas at the Mall.”
This album is excellent, and surely will wind up on a bunch of end-of-the-year bloggers’ lists.