England in 1819
Somewhere on the dusty road of southern folk music trudge the brothers Andrew and Dan Callaway. Classically trained, sons of an itinerate and musical father, these guys claim indie rocker status but sound like they are writing new material for Woody Guthrie. The guitar is languid yet builds to a crescendo, a piano beats out the time while a drum hunts like an old hound, and the voices haunt like the ghost of an old girlfriend. Compositions take odd turns and the vocal inflections somehow feel like they're singing backward, but lyrics push the music forward. "Blue Ribbon" emotes: "...the only way I know for sure when you say we can make it work this time..." Yeah, that's Old Girlfriend talking there. Don't give out your cell number.
Later in this disc, a down chord on a piano leads to another, then another, and soon "Skyscraper" intones like a hymn: "Our arms grow weak..." Now the dirge speeds up, battle-wounded and the dead litter the lyrics, and the parallel is clear -- you DID give out that number and now you're paying the price. Dense lyrics, meandering time signatures, and raw yet opaque emotions -- this is not a record you'll ever find a pop tune on, but it's will set you on your own road to discovery. And why 1819? Peterloo Massacre. Look it up. Depressing. But by now you're in the mood to be depressed and sometimes it's just what you need most of all.