Lou Barlow – [Album]

Lou Barlow – [Album]

Friday, 22 January 2016

Lou Barlow
Brace The Wave
(Joyful Noise)
I can’t deny it (nor would I want to): I am a Lou Barlow fan. To date, there hasn’t been a musical project of which he was a part that I haven’t loved; Sebadoh, Sentridoh, Dinosaur Jr., Folk Implosion and the stuff he’s just recorded under his own name have all found a home in my record collection. Granted, there was that one EP that Folk Implosion did with Deluxx which I found just godawful, but I think one flop in an otherwise untarnished run is perfectly permissible; no one is perfect.

With my opinion of Lou Barlow as a songwriter and performer already established, it should come as no shock that of course I love Brace The Wave – but the really cool thing about this release is that it combines some of the best elements of Barlow’s myriad projects (like the candor of early Sebadoh, the intimate tones of folk implosion and the fine writing that the singer has contributed to both of those projects as well as to Dinosaur Jr.) and uses them as the tiles with which he creates this new mosaic. It’s awesome that all of the pieces interlock so easily here, and fans will find that listening is an easy delight because of it.

Right from the beginning, Barlow presents precisely all that listeners will get from Brace The Wave in “Redeemed.” There, with nothing more than an acoustic guitar, Barlow just hits record (in an unknown location but, judging by the sound reflections in the song, the vocals were captured in a restroom) and just lets a song about innocence lost blurt. It’s hard not to feel lucky or like we’re hearing something we shouldn’t as secrets seem to drop by the line (“The story of my innocence is brief…” and “I said that she could have anything she desired…” are just a sampling of the pieces to examine here), and listeners will be won right away by the candor as well as the fairly unadorned arrangement which surrounds it.

The candor and point-blank honesty which characterizes “Redeemed” doesn’t fade in the slightest as Brace The Wave progresses, but the form of it changes by the track. It becomes confrontational and features more significant backing instrumentation in “Nerve” (check out lines like “Out of sight, out of mind/ out of ways to care”), nervous and painfully worried in “Moving,” heartwarming and sweet in “Pulse” and “Wave” (which speak of body, mind, heart and soul being deeply entwined when emotions angle toward love) and emotionally nude in “Boundaries” (where Barlow sings of just how far he will and will not go for love before taking “the lonely way out” of the situation), but never loses an ounce of the captivating heart infused in each song, no matter which way it turns. It always remains beautiful and, when the whole thing just drifts off as “Repeat” closes the album out, many listeners will find that they dearly want to follow the song title’s instruction.

Having gone front-to-back with the album, I can say that it won me completely. There was no one song in Brace The Wave‘s run-time which felt ill-advised or gave me pause to question its motivation. I was won and other fans of early Sebadoh and Folk Implosion albums will likely feel the same way; it is easily the sort of stuff they’d hope for from a Barlow release. [BILL ADAMS]


Brace The Wave is out now. Buy it here on Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Brace-Wave-Joyful-Noise-Recordings/dp/B019GM6QDC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1453440094&sr=8-2&keywords=Lou+Barlow+-+Brace+The+Wave

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