It’s hard to discuss Durham, NC-via-NYC-via-Medway, UK singer-songwriter Dan Melchior ‘s career without first mentioning how incredibly prolific he’s been in the past 14 years. 20 albums with and without his backing bands, the Broke Revue and Das Menace, run the gamut from traditional folk stylings to fuzzy garage rock and see him collaborating with artists like Holly Golightly, C Spencer Yeh, and the equally energetic Billy Childish–and that’s just the LPs! Melchior’s latest offering, The Backward Path, which arrived last month via Northern Spy, foregoes the speaker-rattling stomp, deep-fried blues, and even the more country-tinged acoustic picking of previous efforts in favor of sounds that are harder to define, unique as they are within his catalog. The album begins with a track of soft electrical buzzing, flashes, snaps, and the sound of something whipping through the air over a warped single-note piano movement. The discomfort of these sounds moving around and past one another is broken by a cross-fade which introduces a clean acoustic guitar and double-tracked vocals. Placed front-and-center for the whole of the more traditionally-structured songs on the record, Melchior’s lyrics and the voice that carry them guide the record in its tone. The singer greets encroaching darkness in “Night Comes In”, loses himself in time through “All the Clocks”, personifies loneliness in “I Have Known the Emptiness”, and hashes out the semiotics of grief through “No End”. It’s a beautiful record, sliding effortlessly from Vetiver-like ethereal folk-pop with backing vocals that ghost ride Melchior’s melody lines into soft-squelching digital oscillations and what sounds like an interrupted digital audio stream of water being poured slowly into a steel bowl two rooms away. Resolute in his treatment of lyrical situations that more than hint at significant personal struggles, challenges met, and ensuing reflection, Melchior has crafted an album that plays out like a metaphysical mixtape filled with degrees of consciousness, broken dream states, and long hours of insomnia that flirt dangerously with dissociation. We expect nothing less than a transcendent set next month at HomeGrown IV.
HOMEGROWN 4: BOSTON HASSLE FEST is happening on November 2nd and 3rd @ the Cambridge Elks Lodge @ 55 Bishop Allen Drive, Central Sq., Cambridge, MA.