20 Songs, 1 Hour 20 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Initially a side-project for Kingfisher’s Jonathan Meiburg and Okkervill River’s Will Sheff, Austin, Texas’ Shearwater has blossomed into a strong, definitive artistic endeavor all its own. The “group”’s fourth album, sans Sheff, has been expanded into a sprawling 19-track set that provides a rollercoaster ride of thrills, dynamics and alternate takes. Now Meiburg’s baby, he wrote 18 of the tracks (Skip James’ “Special Rider Blues” is the lone non-original), Palo Santo is an art-rock tour de force. “La Dame Et La Licorne” begins things in a soothing buzz of ambient texture and swooning emotional outbursts reminiscent of the desolate, latter works of Talk Talk, while other tracks surf the margins of alt.rock history, eliciting comparisons to John Cale, Jeff Buckley, Palace and Red House Painters in their austere sorrow. The title track highlights Meiburg’s fragile vocal style that threatens to close in on itself as the textures gently transform like shapes in a lava lamp. Even his raised voice (“Seventy-Four, Seventy-Five”) exposes a vulnerable nerve that sounds as if a nervous breakdown, his 19th or not, is coming up just over the bridge.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Initially a side-project for Kingfisher’s Jonathan Meiburg and Okkervill River’s Will Sheff, Austin, Texas’ Shearwater has blossomed into a strong, definitive artistic endeavor all its own. The “group”’s fourth album, sans Sheff, has been expanded into a sprawling 19-track set that provides a rollercoaster ride of thrills, dynamics and alternate takes. Now Meiburg’s baby, he wrote 18 of the tracks (Skip James’ “Special Rider Blues” is the lone non-original), Palo Santo is an art-rock tour de force. “La Dame Et La Licorne” begins things in a soothing buzz of ambient texture and swooning emotional outbursts reminiscent of the desolate, latter works of Talk Talk, while other tracks surf the margins of alt.rock history, eliciting comparisons to John Cale, Jeff Buckley, Palace and Red House Painters in their austere sorrow. The title track highlights Meiburg’s fragile vocal style that threatens to close in on itself as the textures gently transform like shapes in a lava lamp. Even his raised voice (“Seventy-Four, Seventy-Five”) exposes a vulnerable nerve that sounds as if a nervous breakdown, his 19th or not, is coming up just over the bridge.

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