FAME Review: Ezra Furman - The Year of No Returning
Ezra Furman - The Year of No Returning

The Year of No Returning

Ezra Furman

Bar None Records - BRNCD221

Available from Ezra Furman's web site.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

In one of those unusual time collapses typical of the music industry, I was sent Ezra Furman's new solo CD a month ago and have already reviewed it…for a critique that will see print in the fall, long after this one. Then I received this collection, a re-issue of 2012's vinyl slab here re-indited in digital format (with two bonus tracks—and I normally don't tend to note such things, but everything this guy pens is a gem, so if you already have the LP, either get this CD or download the extra tracks), so 2013's a busy year for the guy, seeing The Year of No Returning (this'n), Day of the Dog (that other'n) and a slated release by his new gig, The Boy-Friends, forsaking his old romance with The Harpoons. That Ez, he's a heartbreaker.

When Day issues, you'll see what a punky, raucous, excellent affair it is but quite notably differentiated from this one. Many are attributing shades of Dylan and other notables to Furman, half correctly, but I've rarely heard John Lennon so roundly revivified than in this composer-player's singing and writing. I had to check twice to make sure I hadn't accidentally thrown on some as-yet unpublished trove of cuts from old recording sessions by the famed Beatle. However, where Day preserves John's incendiary days, Year flies straight back to his most inventive time, circa Sgt. Pepper's, when the entire 60s / 70s milieu was very very exploratory, what with the Zombies, Love, Jefferson Airplane, Byrds, and so on.

Not that Lennon's later more naked fire is pre-empted here—That's When It Hit Me is a stomp and a half—nor that Year isn't protestative, not a bit of it, no, as even Furman makes it clear in the liner notes that he's fucking pissed and steadfast in a "refusal to submit" to the growing oppression of our time, but the lyricism of this disc far outdistances the upcoming one…as do the literal spaces. I mean, there are sometimes huge blocks of open air here. Check out Down, for instance, which sounds as though recorded in a barn in the middle of the Great Plains. When asked by someone who I'd place Furman with in concert, I replied "Hell, I don't know. Davendra Banheart maybe, Vetiver, but also as an act in any fest worth its name—Bonnaroo, that sort of thing—and not mired in commercial horseshit." The XYZ generations may not have been able to actually live the 60s and 70s as autonomous human beings as the hippies did, but they're doing their damnedest not to lose those decades either.

Track List:

  • Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde
  • American Soil
  • Lay In The Sun
  • Sinking Slow
  • That's When It Hit Me
  • Down
  • Cruel Cruel World
  • Are You Gonna Break My Heart?
  • Bad Man
  • The Queen Of Hearts
  • Doomed Love Affair (Furman / Mukkada)
  • Forty Days in Kansas
All songs written by Ezra Furman except as indicated.

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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