With the staggering amount of alt-country bands floating around in today’s indie scene, it’s hard not to question the honesty and sincerity of the tear-in-your-beer anthems getting penned. Every fan becomes a cynic when people start to channel their inner Townes, but when it comes to Ontario native Brian Dunn, the sadness that permeates his songs is so powerful and matter of fact, it’s hard to separate the artist from the message.
And to be honest, in the hands of a lesser artist that melancholic backbone could sink a record, like it can sink a man. Albums overwrought with emotion start weighing down the listen, but Dunn and drummer Nathan Lawr freshen these timeless, heavyhearted emotions by recordings the guitar and drums live without any studio magic and (with help from Dave Mackinnon of Fembots fame) transforming the traditional guitar and piano with layers of feedback and noise.
Examining the Fallout was written over years on the road and the sadness of being away from home and constantly heading out on tours that lead to nowhere obviously affected Dunn, but the energy and urgency added to tracks like “Worry” and the lead single, “Listening To Myself Die” and the chaos that finishes “Southern City Lights” are just enough to break you free from the weight of stripped down, spare songs like “Poor Valley”, “Time” and “Irish Sundays.”
Finding a diamond in the rough isn’t as easy as it once was when you start talking about new age alt country standouts. More and more records are overproduced and over-polished, but the scrappy arrangements Dunn, Lawr and Mackinnon create help you settle into the simple messages of despair as you wonder why the drugs won’t kick in and the wine won’t numb the pain. I’ve heard thousands of tracks about hurt and loss, and while “Marianne” seems so simple on the surface, the current of feedback that runs through Dunn’s broken heart make it impossible to drift away from the song. Those risks and subtle shifts in sounds are exactly why Examining the Fallout is a must hear record.
MP3:: Brian Dunn - Listening to Myself Die