Lean Year (Richmond, VA based singer Emilie Rex and filmmaker / musician Rick Alverson) give us one last taste of their debut, S/T album before its release this Friday on Western Vinyl. “Waterloo Suns” debuted via Brooklyn Vegan.Watch here
What for Rex was a departure from the structured life of academia toward the uncertain contours of a creative field, for Alverson was a return to form. Having released 5 albums with his previous band Spokane, Alverson took a 10-year hiatus from music to write and direct feature films [Entertainment (2015) and the cult-drama The Comedy (2012)]. These departures and approaches bring a transience and listlessness to the album, like a walk interrupted by both curiosity and caution.
Equally informed by the minimalist folk music of Elizabeth Cotton, Karen Dalton, and Fred Neil; the tenuous, ambient, and orchestral works of Harold Budd, Brian Eno, and John Cale; the quietly pointed but tender songs of Nina Simone and Bessie Smith; and the baroque pop subversions of Love and The Left Banke, the inspirations for Lean Year are as varied as Rex and Alverson’s biographies.
Lean Year often employs visual art as touchstones for the album’s narrative content. The songs hint, both formally and lyrically, at the dysfunctions of contemporary dialogue the missteps, accidents, and deep-seated patterns that are either embraced, discarded, or broken in an attempt to build a common place in the world. Within this seemingly quiet and universal palate, each new track is a small, knowing departure from the last, a gradation in identity and form.