It’s been five years since folksy singer-songwriter Kevin Large put out a promising debut EP under the moniker Widower—an appropriately downbeat band name for Large’s music, tinged with sweetness and sorrow. His follow-up LP, Fool Moon, arrives this month with a more refined polish.
Large has a skill for writing sincerely devotional tunes—a poet’s eloquence and poise when pouring out his heart. His odes on Fool Moon avoid leaning on melodrama but still convey a sense that each love won (“Jumper Cables”) or lost (“Thoroughbred”) is as vital as the blood in his veins. The rest of the six-piece Widower band does a terrific job of finding the right tone to support Large’s lyrics. Jeff Fielder’s guitar, dobro, and banjo work pairs nicely with the vocals, offering a subtle undercurrent that stirs our insides. Kaylee Cole, a solo talent in her own right, provides pitch-perfect backing vocals, giving songs a richer tone without ever pulling focus from Large. And lest you worry this is all downbeat, the band can let loose and folk-rock out (“Two Tombstones”). This collection of songs is for the hopeless romantics among us. It’s a breathtakingly beautiful bummer.
December's Album of the Month. We were a little delayed in picking an album of the month in December—but that doesn’t mean there weren’t any worthwhile releases. Which brings us to: Crown Hill Repeater’s The Patient Sessions, Vol. 1.
Crown Hill Repeater is an electronic-music project created by DJ Eric Moon and his pal William Collin Snavely. The group’s latest EP came to fruition after some toying around with modern music software and plugins to manipulate older technology (like a Roland TR-808 drum machine). After-hours club experimentation resulted in the soothing and unsettling soundscapes on The Patient Sessions, Vol. 1.
The album opens with “Blue,” an easily digestible blend of soft swells, unobtrusive beats, and calming synth. It’s easy to drift into a relaxing trance listening to it, even when the track shifts to a heavily reverberating pulse. In a way, “Blue” makes more sense pumping out of a sleep machine—after "spring creek" and “sounds of the rainforest—than on a dance floor. However, the tone quickly shifts to the twitchy bleeps and rhythmic chaos of “Orange.” The otherworldly tune conjures Super Mario 64 or alien abductions, with the unsettling dark noise a prelude to enemies lurking around the corner. “White” continues this mood as flickers of industrial noise pair with background tones that slowly raise their pitch and the tension. The EP ends with the subtle, eerie stereophonic swirling of “Grey.” The four tracks last just over 20 minutes and showcase a kind of imaginative experimentation that’s in stark relief to the club beats people often associate with electronic music.