Okay, it's difficult not to make a sarcastic remark when Great
Lake Swimmers' singer Tony Dekker complains, "Everything
is moving so fast," in a song of the same name. 'Tony, that's
like a granny in the freeway slow lane, traveling 40 mph and shaking
her fist at everybody who passes her by. Of course, everything seems
fast when you're playing slow motion music!' Lost Channels
is an album traveled by Sunday drivers, who are contemplating the
fast forwarding world all around them.
In Dekker's defense, however, it'd be a whole lot easier to notice
the world's beauty if you'd only slow down a bit. "Pulling On
A Line" naturally uses a fishing analogy - fishing, of course,
is one of the most stationary "activities" known to mankind.
Its lyric takes the old saying - sometimes you eat the bear, sometimes
the bear eats you - and puts it into fishing vernacular. Musically,
this gentle track incorporates some mighty fine jangle guitar, which
may remind you of early R.E.M. recordings. Next up, "Concrete
Heart", mixes in strings and vibraphone, as it softly ruminates
on the rock hard subject matter of cold emotions.
Great Lake Swimmers often get compared to folks like Neil Young,
Will Oldham, and Red House Painters. And while their
hushed sounds are obviously comparable to these artists, Dekker is
a much better singer than all of them combined. He's a little sad
sounding, yet still pretty, whereas those other singers, to put it
nicely, sing with character.
Folk-rock and soft rock are the stylistic descriptors that come most
immediately to mind while this CD plays, although the fiddle and banjo
that help fill out "The Chorus In The Underground" turn
it into a song that holds appeal to both the bluegrass fan and the
traditional country aficionado. The big acoustic guitars driving "Still"
bring out Great Lake Swimmers' purest folk colors. It's easy, for
instance, to imagine Mike Scott of The Waterboys singing
it. Its lyric speaks of anticipation over what to do next in life.
The word "still" is used in one sense to suggest Dekker
is still waiting, like ink to be put to a page, for example. But it's
also used in the sense of one standing still, longing to move - almost
in any direction, for the sake of movement.
Lost Channels is music for those that prefer to sit down in
a restaurant and wait to be served. It's for folks that take time
to stop at rest stops during long trips, just to look around at surroundings
for a spell. But if you're in a hurry, Great Lake Swimmers' music
may be a little trying on your patience. So by all means, only listen
to Lost Channels when you have plenty of time and attention
span to get to know it.
- Dan MacIntosh
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