Northampton’s Bryan Gillig (alternatively Bryan Phantom Fairlane, Loudville) has released roughly a record a month for 2013, his prolificacy matched only by his eclecticism. The right wall of his Bandcamp overfloweth with live electric jives, broken harmonica one-takes, and found sound loop experiments. “Go to Hell”, the most recent offering, is the most polished and immediate of the bunch, a country-fried devotional to an unscratchable itch in your heart and mind.
Gillig plays off several country-gospel tropes in interesting ways. The song begins with a clawhammered baritone ukulele, a modern strummer instrument gussied up by an old folk technique. The story follows the tradition of parenthetical title inversion, or a blues turnaround phrase: where you expect a spiteful put-down, you instead receive a solemn pledge that, “You Can Go to Hell (I’ll Follow You Like a Bell)”. His earnest, warbled vibrato seems to strive towards glossy crooners, but it’s his cracks and quivers that are most expressive. Additionally, he prefers to let his lyrical accents stretch metric limits (and lines like “What tragic magnet draws your traces through the soil / towards a target like a serpentine coil” deserve their own space). In the face of such hyper-literate imagery, the wordless sigh in counterpoint with a swelling harmonium in the chorus creates a stark contrast between the song’s formal sections.
Gillig, in whichever chosen genre, is a committed songwriter and performer willing to push himself. Sample his year in musical reflection and be confronted by your own mess of thoughts and impulses.