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Monday, 21 May 2012

Warn Defever - 'I Wan You To Live 100 Years' (P & C Lo)

When we get to the H's, you'll discover my deep love for His Name is Alive and Warn Defever in general. He's got a lot of great non-HNIA projects, chief among them probably the New Grape cassette, but I'm not sure if this is one of them. Recorded at the peak of Defever's Americana nostalgia, the twelve songs on this disc were recorded on a wax cylinder, or maybe just played back through a static-drenched radio, or maybe just run through a VST plug-in. Either way, the distant, 100-years ago fidelity attempts to conceptually tie together the record, which is rooted in an old nostalgic turn-of-the-century aesthetic. It also has the advantage of masking, at least partially, some of Defever's terribly off-key singing. I have a big soft spot for this album, which begins with a Willie Nelson cover ('Sad Songs & Waltzes') and proceeds through even more countrified originals. These tracks occasionally touch the cute/sad dichotomy of this era of HNIA ('One Year' turns up later, I think) and the naievete is of course the whole idea. The guy started getting really into organic freejazz sound explorations soon after this, which led to some wonderfully unappreciated music, but this is still Defever deep into his ESP-summer thing, and I for one enjoy it. Though I'm not completely sure how much it works - I like listening to it, but it's been years since I pulled it out, and for so much thought put into the concept, a bit more could have gone into the execution. 'Cheatin' Heart' is not a Hank Williams cover but could as well be; said organ is mentioned in two titles, as 'Heart Struck Sorrow' involves Defever banging away with confidence on his axe.  I saw him live on this tour and remember this song distinctly, and also an audience wondering why this guy thought he could sing. There's the same little musical interludes that appear on the best HNIA records (Stars on ESP and Fort Lake, if you're asking), sometimes between the songs and at other times just between the verses. The whole disc ends with an ancient recording of a song proclaiming the great state of Michigan, and you know what? Defever doesn't even mean it ironically.

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