Mirror The Eye
Throughout the ’90s, it seemed like Lou Barlow was releasing a new 7″ or CD each week. Between his work with Sebadoh, the Folk Implosion, Deluxx Folk Implosion, Sentridoh, not to mention the few records released under his own name, it could very well be that everything Barlow committed to tape during that decade is available in some form or other.
In the last few years, though, Barlow has been gracious enough to provide his fans with a bevy of mp3s for free download from his web site, keeping up a steady stream of songwriting and recording. Although the tracks on his site can often be not completely fleshed out, from the sounds of this new EP, he has been socking away the really good stuff for other uses.
Recorded in 2006, the five songs on this disc are some of the most confident work he has written in ages, free of the stinging wit and goofy antics that have marked some of his other solo ventures. He still sings of loss and disappointment; it is not in the romantic arena, but instead towards broken friendships and being “humbled” in the midst of what he calls “a beautiful decline.”
And, although he hasn’t shied away from religious imagery in the past, the stark lyrics to a song like “My Surrender” sound shockingly like Barlow has undergone a religious conversion in the last few years (“I come to you grateful to be standing/ sometimes I need help to help myself”).
The music on these songs has also been reined in, though it does sound like he is finally taking full advantage of the advances in digital recording. The focus is still on acoustic guitar and voice, but he wraps them both in swaths of Moog synthesizer sounds and some sharp electric guitar lines.
The overall tone of Mirror The Eye is assured, restrained, and most of all, mature. Whether this is in reaction to the birth of his daughter or getting his rock ‘n’ roll antics out of his system playing with J. Mascis again, it hardly matters what the reasons are when the results are as wonderful as on this disc.
Lou Barlow: www.loobiecore.com