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Pale Horse And Rider | These Are The New Good Times (Darla)
Recorded by Low's Alan Sparhawk in Duluth (at the same church and utilising many of the same musicians that grace Rivulets' second album 'Debridement'), this optimistically titled album is the work of Jon DeRosa, better known for his work in the brooding Aarktica. Across its eleven tracks, 'These Are The New Good Times' begs, steals and borrows from deRosa's contemporaries, helping to create the sense of 'family' that he sought on these intimate, sparse songs. Thus among the original material we find covers of songs by Nathan Amundson (aka Rivulets), Brian John Mitchell (aka Remora), and multi-instrumentalist Marc Gartman, seamlessly interspersed. Opener Jersey Coast Line could be a relocated lost blues from Palace Brothers, Mitchell's I Told Jesus Christ How Much I Love Her likewise evoking a Songs:Ohia confessional; and the early sequencing of these songs suggests deRosa is at least conscious of his potential audience for this record. Elsewhere Metropolitan Love Song boasts the record's most affecting vocal and withstands comparison to both Mark Kozelek and the graceful tones of Flare's LD Begthol (deRosa guests on Flare's new album, 'Hung' and Flare's Charles Newman provides keys here). The guest players all provide subtle accompaniment on this largely acoustic record, electric guitars providing texture rather than dominating, banjo and violin making effective, decorative cameos from time to time. Sounding supremely confident and leading by example, deRosa possesses a genuine adroitness for small-town narrative, a grasp of country music's humour and a lived-in voice that combine to contradict both his years (he's a mere 24 years old) and his Brooklyn habitat.

Matt Dornan
March-April 2003