I've always been a little leery of EPs. Drivin' 'n Cryin' and others have done much to modify that trepidation, and it's more than apparent that the state of the music world's predicaments re: labels and corporations tumbling, as well as the economic situation, are forcing the average musician into states of compromise all too understandable. More and more, though, individuals and groups are releasing such thoroughly well executed work in this truncated medium that one rejoices the format exists at all. That, anyway, is what I'm coming to grasp, and Big Lonesome is the kind of group that reinforces the illumination.
I've likewise been a bit on edge about much of the Cowpunkification Era of alt-country musics, which started out pretty damned roughly before finding its way, now quite satisfying. Kevn Kinney and crew have been a part of that, but The Big Lonesome tends more to inherent mellifluities rather than nakedly boot-rockin' the house. Way back when, it was precisely that trait in groups like Help Yourself that helped coax my progrock ears over to the North 40 because I could locate strains of Iain Matthews (back then in Matthews Southern Comfort) and others sliding into the modus mix as influencers resulting in some way cool-ass hybridizations. Lonesome does much the same thing, huge helpings of pure rockin' appear alongside the wheatfields and starry-eyed vocals, everything refined through a tempered approach.
Then there are the ornamentations straying rather nicely into odd realms, as in the electronic denouement to Undone, itself segueing into Rockland Place, continuing a fascinating background buzz bridging the two. Thus, you get not only Neil Young and Wilco, as the promo lit avers, but also Jackson Browne, Dave Matthews, and a slice of the more modern innovators. Listen closely, though, to what's going on in the tremulously gorgeous chamber-country-folk Rockland Place. These guys, I'm pretty damned sure, are going to sooner or later make a major statement 'cause they're unafraid to synthesize whatever will expand their way of looking at things while walking a tightrope into newer territories. In that, they're kin to John Martyn and the more subtly daring folk/country/rock artists as well…but, uh, they really need to get their art direction together. I haven't Clue One what the hell the liner is supposed to be conveying, and the typography is completely obscured in a very unwise spatial placement. A sound this damned good deserves a much better visual announcement than that, though I'm guessing the decision to use the artwork was provoked by the same force that wrought the EP format: a lack of $$$s. Man on man, when will this fucked-up Republican Second Depression end?
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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