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Spokane | The Proud Graduates (Jagjaguwar)
It's difficult to mistake the languorous mumble of ex-Drunk songwriter Rick Alverson. His dry and hesitant vaporous vocal is without parallel; dynamically restricted maybe, but no less suggestive for this. Similarly, the spare scenarios of his songs - their lethargic pace and Alverson's light lyrical suggestions - evoke so much more than their own minimalistic restrictions night imply. Delivered with easy understatement, the subtle grace of the lyrics often wafts past unacknowledged, or at least misconstrued. As diffuse as they mostly are, within Alverson's imagistic thumbnail sketches is a storyteller's control of the elements. He focuses on frozen moments of reflection or contemplation, teasing out entire biographies from the minutiae: a television on; a schoolbag carelessly thrown; a person staring at their feet or combing their hair. A soundtrack to dusk, there's a weight of sadness to the eight long songs of 'The Proud Graduates' that's like the approach of darkness. On tracks that are potentially chilling in their stasis, Alverson's guitar is crisscrossed by violin, cello, vibes and glockenspiel, adding majesty to his murmurs, underpinned by the harmonies of Courtney Bowles. Bearing comparison to Edward Hopper, 'The Proud Graduates' is an elusive collection, under whose surface is a mine of poise and beauty.

Martin Williams
CWAS #9 - Winter 2002

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