Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm
Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm resonates with moody and melancholic tones as autumnal as the album title. Leftwich's hushed vocals and delicate acoustic guitar arpeggios are sure to garner inescapable comparisons to Iron & Wine, Jose Gonzalez, Bon Iver, and Elliott Smith. But his haunting songs, love for reverb, and spectral vocals have more in common with Bostonian dream-folk songstress Marissa Nadler, especially the eerie trill in his higher register. Starting strong, “Pictures” opens all rainy-day gloom and beauty, with cooing vocal harmonies and abstract hypothetical narrative lyrics. “Box of Stones” follows with minimally pedaling percussion and more gossamer self-sung vocal harmonies. A layered electric guitar and lonesome violin give the tune sublime dynamics. Fans of Fleet Foxes might appreciate the sunnier vocals cascading down the chorus of “1904.” Leftwich’s voice sounds worn, weary, and vulnerable on the bonus track “Bottle Baby,” fitting well with the song’s hardscrabble themes of emotional exhaustion and bleak desolation.