You Are Never Close to Home, You Are Never Far From Home, by Levi Weaver (CD Review) ~ BitterSweetLife

Thursday, January 24, 2008

You Are Never Close to Home, You Are Never Far From Home, by Levi Weaver (CD Review)

Levi Weaver
You Are Never Close to Home, You Are Never Far From Home

A guest post by Timothy Zila

There’s a seemingly endless array of emerging independent artists fighting for a mark of distinction - Levi Weaver is one of them. With his debut album You Are Never Close to Home, You are Never Far From Home, Weaver finds himself with a collection of songs well rooted in styles and sounds that are by now well established. It’s not that folk is necessarily out, but rather that the whole indie/folk/op resurgence is all but complete. In other words, there’s not necessarily any advantage to be gained by a movement which has now come full circle. Even the ability to weave an unnaturally good line into a song, or express a familiar sentiment in a slightly new way ought to be expected of you if you want to survive - to make no mention of making any kind of mark.

Weaver does do a few things, however, that - if not unique - at least help give his songs a distinct quality. “Of Bridges Burned” brims with an eerie echo of reggae and an unnatural ability to infuse soul into his choruses with perfectly articulated lines like “Don’t talk of the future in your hopeful tones.” (The same trick is pulled on the following “Family Feud,” the album’s would-be disaster if Weaver hadn’t worked things out meticulously, keeping the melody thumping below the song’s structure, and making everything work despite being grating and ill advised.)

The simplest tracks, however, prove to be the best. On “You are Home,” the simple combination of Weaver’s acoustic guitar, the quiet patter of background rhythm, and the fluid emotion of the violin create the album’s most immediately affecting track. Then there’s “Which Drink?” We know right from the beginning that Weaver is ready to rock out, and this time he’s not messing with any ill-advised southern narrative on violence. Moving between a dense section destined (although I’m not quite sure it ever does) to explode in a flurry of notes and variations, and the forced quietness of the verses. “And which night/Was the night when the kingdom/I thought I was king of fell at the walls of the waves of a broken dam (make me a broken man)” Weaver sings before letting the chorus out - its emotive catchiness taking over.

Then there’s the organic cover of Radiohead’s “Idioteque.” I have to admit that I actually haven’t heard the original, but my feeling is that Weaver’s version is exactly what any great Radiohead cover should be. Beginning with the chill inducing sound of Weaver playing his acoustic guitar with a violin bow the song (in the words of David Sessions) “achieves transcendence by replicating nearly every sound in the original without electronically-generated instruments.” It’s your typically lovely, paranoid Radiohead song, complete with some haunting references to an Ice Age (the eventual result of Global Warming, if you didn’t know) that I imagine are more potent than they were when Kid A was released.

A few hard to distinguish tracks make way for a somewhat quiet ending to a promising album which sees Weaver making solid music even when he gets lost amongst melodies and lyrics which are too familiar to really stay with you. (“Look at the stars/How pretty they are” sings like a hundred artists, but is particularly evocative of Josh Ritter minus some of the witty rapid-fire wordplay.) Everything here is pleasantly effective but one wonders, as one always should, just how long it’ll stick, how long it’ll leave it’s mark. And that’s where originality doesn’t mean a thing - good songwriting is good songwriting whether it’s progressive or not.

For more information, check out Weaver's MySpace page or purchase the album here.

[Timothy Zila is approaching his six month anniversary of writing for Patrol Magazine and the one week anniversary (or something, he’s not really sure) of his re-launched blog, Edge of the City, which he hopes he will one day reach readership levels expanding into the double digits. His greatest ambition is to grow a beard like Sam Beam, although he’s been warned repeatedly that he should not share this information with anyone.]

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