Reviews:: Elvis Perkins Ash Wednesday

Elvis Perkins is someone I’ve been meaning to talk about for months and months. While You Were Sleeping is one of the most amazing songs I heard all last year – so much so that So Much Silence gave it the nod as song of the year, and we’d be hard pressed to find fault in their logic. He’s got a riveting back story, being the son of the original Psycho (Anthony Perkins) and Berry Berenson (photographer who was killed in the 9/11 attacks), laced with tragedy and sadness.

However, I never got around to grabbing a copy of his debut disc until XL re-released the Ash Wednesday release. Leading off with the incredible aforementioned While You Were Sleeping, Perkins sets the bar extremely high… maybe too high. However, while the other songs don't jump through the speakers and grab you like the lead off hitter, I think it’s the smartest move he made. It’s like opening a show with the one song everyone knows and wants to hear. You get it out of the way, get people excited, and then you can use the rest of the time to play the songs you want and set your own tone. The tone he sets is a mix of emotions and subtlety.

As a songwriter, Elvis is surprisingly diverse and well schooled. He is more than a "guy with a guitar", as he proves time and time again with the use of interesting layers and instrumentation. Songs like While You Were Sleeping, Emile’s Vietnam in the Sky and Moon Woman II rely on gentle strums and slow drums, but the strings he adds (and the accordion on Emile’s) really expands the listen without seeming forced or repetitive.

What really surprised me was the troubadour style of It’s a Sad World After All. Despite the simple picked riff Elvis delivers an amazingly powerful performance. With the help of some simple background vocals and the hint of what sounds like a saw or steel in the distance, the song could easily be a Wainright penned number. This impressive style continues on the horn/vibraphone heavy Sleep Sandwich. Its number like these that show how much talent this young man really possesses.

His vocal range and styles channels many that came before him (Nick Drake and David Gray – on It’s Only Me and the title track), but never loses it’s own path, especially when you consider the subject matter. Obviously, with all he’s been through, the ever present emotion is one of sadness, but he mixes in glimpses of optimism and is an excellent story teller.

This record is one you really should hear. He’s @ the Media Club on March 31st, so check him out.
MP3:: All the Night Without Love


@ 4:24 PM, Anonymous Jeff kicked the following game:

This is a beautiful record. I still don't hear the David Gray, though.

 

@ 5:19 PM, Blogger ack kicked the following game:

Maybe it's just me... on It's Only Me, it's just specific moments, like when he strains on the second "it's only mine", I just cna't help but not think of Gray.

 

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