“Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” – Ezra Furman
Quirky and intense, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” has the core of something weathered and true—an old Dylan song, perhaps, or maybe even Woody Guthrie. (Or maybe simply the Indigo Girls; cf., “Three Hits.”) In any case, if the melody is tried and true, it is offered with such an unrelenting edge—Furman is let us say an unhinged singer—as to blossom into something as yet unheard, not to mention powerful and inexplicably moving.
The arrangement provides an able assist, as an elusive array of instruments deliver commentary and motifs in and around the acoustic-guitar backbone. I hear at the very least a variety of woodwinds, each playing careful, intriguing parts. Often when the “chamber pop” begins, indie-rockers veer towards kitchen-sink arrangements. Here we get the unusual combination of complex and restrained; Furman, in his first foray as a solo artist, has figured out a way to welcome his unorthodox background players without giving them the run of the store. If anything, he has unexpectedly expanded the sonic palette of the impassioned folk singer.
Furman has fronted his band the Harpoons since they were students at Tufts University in 2006; with three albums under their belts, they remain a going concern, even with this upcoming solo record, entitled The Year of No Returning. Previously based in Chicago, post-Boston, Furman has recently moved to San Francisco. His album will be self-released next month. It was funded via Kickstarter. Thanks to Largehearted Boy for the head’s up. MP3 via Consequence of Sound.