Wentworth Kersey | O
Most Likely To: make you cry in public while listening on your iPod.
I shouldn’t be allowed to review this EP. I think when you fear listening to an album in public on your iPod – because you’re afraid you’ll start crying because it’s so pretty – you forgo all ability to examine its technical aspects unflinchingly. This little EP and its sad melodies, simple message of heartbreak, and simmering production has slyly burrowed deep into my black little heart. But here I’ll do my best to examine it.
Psych-folk is an intriguing genre because of its paradoxes. Folk music and Americana is steeped in the warmth of tradition and everyday life; tack on “psych” and everything is flipped upside down in a radical undercurrent of things not being as they are – the unknown, rebellion, the otherworldly. But with O, released on Plastic Sound Supply Records, Jeff Wentworth Stevens’ echoing sound bytes and layered production only add to the songs that Joe Kersey Sampson sings with pulsating humanity. Like a picture collage that forms a larger image when viewed from far away, they use these very different elements to create a uniform feel.
“Breakdown” pairs a catchy and uplifting, folky tune with the swell of Joy Division’s decadent brand of sadness, with sweet strings and triumphant bells ringing in the background as he sings, “I don’t want to stay in this land of misery.” “The Death of Anthony Gonsalves,” my favorite, moans with exotic instruments (which I, with my adorable non-musical background, can only describe as Indian harmonica), but comes across as a simple sad song about a hard, nomadic life. “There is hell at bay, there is hell at bay today,” he sings, “and miles to taste, there are miles to taste today.” “Impressed” employs sketches of choirs burning in the background of what sounds like a lost love song, as Joe Sampson sings: “I didn’t make her but I wish that I had.” And you believe him. “Pablo & Julia Dream Of Hwy 104″ eases into a swelling, more foreboding Boards of Canada-type instrumental/electronic piece. And “Riot” is like Simon & Garfunkel meets Animal Collective as they reflect, “The shiniest day I ever had…”
Instead of sounding muddled, out of place, or production-heavy, as a whole it feels natural, sweet, an earnest reflection on life made by two sad bastards, sitting on a porch.
Listen to “Breakdown” by Wentworth Kersey: