Paul Duncan

Paul Duncan

Paul Duncan

Be Careful What You Call Home

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Another in a fairly prestigious line of contemporary auteur-folkies, Paul Duncan has put together an album that deftly toes the line between the accessible and experimental ends of the spectrum. Dusty opener “In a Way” wafts in on gently-strummed acoustic guitar, brushed drums and nearly undecipherable sighed lyrics. Cascading rocker “Tired and Beholden” follows this up with electric guitar riffs and a driving rhythm section. The rest of the disc follows a similar pattern, with Duncan partnering up seemingly disparate sounds and songwriting track after track. Interestingly, he chooses free-form instrumentals as the disc’s thematic link. “Toy Bell” plunks away in rain-soaked melancholy. “Toy Piano” plays like a lo-fi Vince Guaraldi composition and “Toy Bass,” with the fluid interplay between its titular instrument and a steel guitar, instantly recalling post-rock greats Japancakes.

On the lyric tracks, Duncan’s outlook is fairly bleak. More often than not, he recounts tales of isolation, distance and death. “Content to Burn…” offers some consolation in its refrain repeating “It could be good like this,” in reference to a wordless night spent staring at the stars.

In the end, Be Care What You Call Home ends up embodying those rural places, both rustic and shambolic, it seems Sufjan Stevens is aiming for on his state documents. And while the grandeur of Stevens’ songwriting continues to build, Duncan’s more elegant and gentle tales of the wayward people and places provide a much needed intimate foil in today’s folk lexicon.

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