Phosphorescent: Here's to Taking It Easy (Dead Oceans)

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Phosphorescent: The Mermaid Parade
Phosphorescent: Here's to Taking It Easy (Dead Oceans)

The last album by this band -- the vehicle for Matthew Houck -- was their tribute to Willie Nelson, but this time out it is all original material and the energy levels are kicked up, notably on the Band/Black Crowes/E Street opener It's Hard to be Humble (When You're From Alabama).

Rolling steel guitars and a country-rock mood propel Nothing Was Stolen and the mood here is that you might expect in a tour bus on the road across the great expanse of America: characters (mostly Houck) are rootless and restless, travelling in the real or inner world, knowing he's making others unhappy but accepting thaat is his condition . . .

When the mood cuts right back to a more folksy sway (the lovely We'll Be Here Soon) there is gentle melodicism which takes over (and in that case a guitar that could have come from Willie), and a wistful quality which is engaging.

At the other end -- literally, the final track -- he hunkers down with the dark menace Neil Young brought to On the Beach for a meditation on Los Angeles (and maybe the dreams shattered in the music business).

Hej, Me I'm Light (those the sole lyrics) sounds like a weirdly trippy campfire chant with layered vocals and soft drums, but equally he pulls out the litany of indifference on I Don't Care if There's Cursing which, again over pedal steel, is quiet country-rock with an alt bent.

This is a complex album from an artist who cannot and will not be easily categorised -- and is all the better for that.

Longtime listening guaranteed. 

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