Solemn, piano-based composition with a whiff of the Renaissance about it. Liam Singer has a plaintive, Elliott Smith-like tenor, and pairs himself vocally here with Wendy Allen, of Boxharp, who sings an intricate counter-melody with the airy, earnest bearing of a traditional folk singer. The song they create together is both deliberate and hypnotic, with a canon-like melody that climbs and descends and circles and fits back together with itself without any apparent starting or end point, and no sense of chorus or verse.
The overall feel is elegiac; the lyrics are inscrutable but there is a strong sense of lament here, accentuated by the centuries-old sensibility working its way through this contemporary recording. The ear is not necessarily surprised, then, when a harpsichord joins in at 1:54. But my ear, in any case, is delighted by the wondrous series of slightly cockeyed ascending lines the instrument plays. The dusty, tinkly sound Baroque composers demanded of the instrument is summarily dismissed, and the world breathes a sigh of relief.
Born in Portland, Oregon and now living in Brooklyn, Singer studied musical composition at Kenyon College; his primary instrument was, yes, the harpsichord. He plays in a band called Devil Be Gone with Rob Hampton (formerly of Band of Horses) and also tours on keyboards with the Brooklyn-based Slow Six. “Winter Weeds” is from Singer’s third album, Dislocatia, to be released next month on Hidden Shoal Recordings, based in Perth, Australia. MP3 via Hidden Shoal.