Rian Murphy and Will Oldham

Rian Murphy and Will Oldham

All Most Heaven

Drag City

This is impressive. Although there are only four songs on this EP from Oldham (ye avant-hillbilly supreme), they’re so brimming with beautiful incongruities and so richly textured that length is of little import. Call it rococo-Americana — urban, decadent, yet reminiscent of the best of the backwoods — this is Oldham at his best. It doesn’t hurt, of course, that he’s flanked by Rian Murphy (of Red Krayola and Palace fame), and Jim O’Rourke (a modern-day indie Phil Spector incarnate). O’Rourke’s arrangements are truly amazing. Listening to them alone brings to mind the classier moments of the High Lamas or the score for the movie Popeye by Harry Nilsson and Van Dyke Parks. It’s a mini-orchestra: swaggering, elegant, and in parlor music mode. One of the most intriguing aspects of All Most Heaven is the mix of high and low art. It’s astounding, at first, when Oldham’s warbled, soar-throat voice comes astride the refined instrumentation. Picturing professional musicians getting paid to lay down these luxuriant tracks to have Oldham yodel his way through them is delightful.

Will Oldham has always had a tiny child-prodigy and a little preacher inside of him. As a kid-evangelist in the film Matewan (1987), there was a foreshadowing of the Appalachian-prophet to come. Some of the songs on All Most Heaven are tinged with divine calling. Perhaps the lyrics to the third track, “Song of Most,” are autobiographical: “I knew what I wanted to do when I was only three years old.” It’s good to see that Pushkin’s got his groove back and knows again what he wants to do (who he wants to be is an entirely different matter for the man with a thousand aliases). For those whose faith in the post-Palace material has been waning, this could be the record that ushers you back into the fold.

Drag City, P.O. Box 476807, Chicago, IL 60647; http://www.dragcity.com

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Recently on Ink 19...

  • Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World
    Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World

    There’s more than black music influencing the evolution of Rock and Roll. Native American rhymes and ideas are every bit as significant, once you know to look for them.

  • Keith Morris
    Keith Morris

    Ink 19 slings a few questions to the punk rock pioneer Keith Morris on Trump, Calexit and looking back.

  • Soul Understated
    Soul Understated

    Soul Understated was a swizzle stick of jazz, funk, pop with a dash of Radiohead in the delightful DC cocktail.

  • Anca Miruna Lǎzǎrescu
    Anca Miruna Lǎzǎrescu

    That Trip We Took With Dad is the debut feature by acclaimed Romanian short film director Anca Miruna Lǎzǎrescu. Generoso Fierro sat down with Lǎzǎrescu during SEEFest to discuss the comedy and drama within the adaptation of her deeply personal family story for the screen.

  • Aware
    Aware

    The Book Of Wind (Glacial Movements). Review by Carl F Gauze.

  • BANG: The Bert Berns Story
    BANG: The Bert Berns Story

    The music biz collides with the mob in this documentary chronicling the fast and dangerous life of legendary ’60s songwriter, producer, record mogul, Bert Berns.

  • The Suicide Commandos
    The Suicide Commandos

    Time Bomb (Twin/Tone). Review by Scott Adams.

  • Tricot
    Tricot

    3 (Topshelf Records). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

  • Bush
    Bush

    One of the most successful rock bands of the ’90s attracted thousands of fans to its recent Orlando concert. Christopher Long was there.

  • New Found Glory
    New Found Glory

    New Found Glory celebrate 20 years of Pop Punk with a string of sold-out intimate dates at The Social. Jen Cray was there for night two.

From the Archives