Friday, December 14, 2012

21. Mark Eitzel - Don’t Be a Stranger (Merge)

Though recording circumstances and labels can be erratic, one thing that has marked Mark Eitzel's career is consistency. Sure, some of his records, in and out of American Music Club, are stronger than others. But it's rare that his muse abandons him when it comes to putting pen to paper and fingers to fretboard. So throwing words like "return to form" around can be misleading.

That said, Don't Be a Stranger, his first solo record that's not self-released since 2005's Candy Ass, really is one of his best. Recorded in the aftermath of both a heart attack and the dissolution of AMC (again), the album marks a return to full-band production, after a few sparse records that drifted between acoustics and electronica. Produced by Sheldon Gomberg, who's worked with Rickie Lee Jones and Ben Harper, the record boasts the best sound an Eitzel solo record has had in at least a decade. Accompanied by a skilled but tasteful band, Eitzel rests his tunes in beds of piano and acoustic guitar, with a sedate but still propulsive rhythm section that includes Attractions/Imposters drummer Pete Thomas. The arrangements give the tracks a sense of fullness, but with the austerity that has marked his best work. Indeed, the record in his catalog that Stranger calls to mind the most is AMC's spare but lovely California, arguably Eitzel's first masterpiece.

via Blurt Magazine (read rest there)

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