Free and legal MP3 from Midwest Dilemma (bittersweet ‘docurock’ waltz, with 23-piece folk orchestra)

“The Great Depression” – Midwest Dilemma
     A brisk, bittersweet country waltz, “The Great Depression” tells a vague but insistent story of deprivation and resolve, via a 23-piece folk orchestra. Front man and songwriter Justin Lamoureux, from Omaha, sings with a refreshing, scuffed-up solidity–no wispy, chamber pop tenor he–but at the same time leaves plenty of room for the contraption-like menagerie of guitars and winds and strings and percussion that is Midwest Dilemma, as they pump and sway (and, occasionally, squeak) along with him. I picture Lamoureux singing from smack in the middle of it all, sometimes needing to stand on tiptoes to be noticed.
     The album on which you’ll find “The Great Depression” is called Timelines & Tragedies, and was self-released in May. It apparently tells stories of Lamoureux’s family history, spanning some 400 years (this song is not a current political statement, just to be clear). The indie scene of the ’00s has definitively given birth to this sort of docurock–idiosyncratic, often incomprehensible takes on personal and cultural history. Neutral Milk Hotel may have spawned the trend 10 years ago, with the strange but seminal In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. You need a good melody to carry this kind of thing off; a compelling arrangement is another plus. “The Great Depression” scores on both counts. The harmonies provided by Elizabeth Webb enhance the power of the song’s resilient tune, and as for the arrangement, pay particular attention to how oceanic the earnest, acoustic churn of the ensemble becomes during the song’s closing half-minute. Some songs do not need to be fully understood to be gotten.

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