Shakey Graves – Roll the Bones

This is one of the absolute best albums I have listened to coming from the internet homemade music scene, straight from Austin, Texas. It’s incredibly pretty music, but it’s also mature, complex and rich of emotion. The lyrics are wonderful, delivered with beautiful singing in breathtaking melody. The banjo-playing is just perfect. Taken aback by the quality of the first track, I thought to myself that they couldn’t keep that level for the whole album, and wondered if any track is less than repeat-listening worthy. None at all. The last song is one of the most beautiful also.

The album goes back and forth between alternative country a purer folk and country music, with a few stops for overwhelming Tom Waits influence (Tracks 7 and 9, at least). You get the great feeling of listening to something that has deep root in culture. For Americans, the “100% made in America” feel must be very satisfying. The lyrical content is less rooted in the imagery of its lyrical content, but that’s skin-deep. The deep American folk view of looking at the world is the most important thing to preserve, and it’s all here. The folk phraseology is there, the way of talking, centered on very real things and their emotional meaning, with expressions such as “cherished more than gold” and “I think I’ve grown a little thinner”. No embarrassing stories about a horse sung by a twenty-something guy, just a country sort of thinking and talking, such as in the marvelous “Proper Fence”. A spoken voice sample about the penis is the only very disconnected thing I could find, in the most out-there tracks, the farther away from country, with a nice alternative country melody.

Only bad thing I can say about this is that I miss having the lyrics somewhere. (edit: lyrics here)

-Carpeaux