Romanian Names (Bonus Track Version)
John Vanderslice works with texture. The troubadour favors instrumentation that borders on the ornate without overtaking the material. Stacks of harmonies, flashes of keyboards and plenty of hummable melodies set to inscrutable lyrics that keep the mind puzzled serve as his working mode. In effect, Vanderslice records pop music that’s pop only on the surface. Once the top layer is peeled away, the complexity begins. “C & O Canal” could be a folk sea chantey for Crosby, Stills & Nash. “Too Much Time” represents a majestic power ballad that never seeks the power of the arena, though it always threatens. Over the years, Vanderslice has indulged his engineering side and made sonically pretty records and Romanian Names is no exception. “Too Much Time” shuffles with an alluring unpretentious gait. “D.I.A.L.O.” flows with a slippery synth worming its way underneath a sweetly pained lead vocal. ”Forest Knolls” works a ticking time meter into a sparse, ominous arrangement. Vanderslice sounds relaxed and playful, perhaps secure in the knowledge that he’s working out one of his finest albums to date.