“Hand of God” – Jason Boesel

Loping, good-natured Americana from the voice and sticks of one of the indie scene’s busiest drummers. While the casual beat, agreeable steel guitar licks, and gang-style harmonies (i.e. no harmony) in the chorus imply a lightweight yarn, there’s a bit more here than might initially meet the ear. I suspect, in fact, distraction is part of the design, and that it’s precisely because the words so easily roll off Boesel’s friendly, reverbed voice–think Nashville Skyline Dylan crossed with Ron Sexsmith–that you don’t readily notice how he’s messing with you.

But he’s doing just that, largely via the time-honored songwriting trick of changing one or two key words in lines that, repeating, otherwise appear the same. In the chorus, for instance, he first is “recovering,” while “remembering” is hard; on the repeat, he is “remembering,” and it’s “recovering” that’s hard. Or, in the first verse, he goes up the stairs and doesn’t know why, while in the last verse he goes down the stairs and now he knows why. (And we do too, if we’re paying attention.) Also, he first hears laughing in the dark, which he realizes “could” have been him; later he hears screaming in the dark, which he admits “had” to be him. And then this subtle, trickily told story of love gone bad climaxes with an offhand lyrical gem: “I thought I was a secret/But I was too easy to keep.” A song this carefully crafted always rewards repeat listens.

Boesel is drummer for Rilo Kiley, and has also sat at the kit for Bright Eyes, the Elected, and Conor Oberst, among others. “Hand of God” is from his debut solo album, Hustler’s Son, slated for release next month on Team Love. MP3 via Team Love.




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