A Cork Tale Wake
It’s a rare thing in the music world when a performer so accurately encapsulates the feel of a particular city and music scene on one album, but that’s what Chris Bathgate has done with A Cork Tale Wake. Like Ann Arbor mainstay Fred Thomas before him, Bathgate has the ability to cast specific events and places in a universal light. Name checking various important music and personal locales from the city’s map on songs like “Last Parade on Ann St.” and “Madison House,” Bathgate paints a picture of Ann Arbor full of autumnal melancholy, the brittle feeling of lost summer love and the drunken promise of winter one night stands.
Throughout the disc’s 11 tracks, Bathgate and his backing crew keep things on the simpler side, with tasteful arrangements of acoustic guitar, cello, violin, trumpet and mandolin. His ensemble breaks the mold occasionally with songs like “Smiles Like a Fist” (which relies on a driving rhythm section to cast it alongside Magnolia Electric Co.) and “Last Parade on Ann St.” where the music suddenly swells up through the rural ether in shoegazer beauty at its climax. Being so tied to this music scene it’s hard to listen to this music objectively as a reviewer, but as a listener and a fan of music, there are few other acts I want documenting the goings on in my city.
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