There were a few tempting new releases that came out yesterday, including new albums from Alabama Shakes, They Might Be Giants, Built To Spill and Ryan Adams performing at Carnegie Hall. Though all of these were compelling to a degree, I ended up having my interest peaked most by the Great Lake Swimmers on their sixth album “A Forest Of Arms”. This band has had a change in members over its decade plus, but singer/songwriter/guitarist, Tony Dekker remains the constant and continues to put out folk music with a twist.
The opening track is “Something Like A Storm” begins abruptly, but settles nicely into strings and fantastic beat. There is an immediate romanticism about the music.
“Zero In The City” has a little bit of a Bon Iver vibe and professes how different things are when two become one and one, again.
I was instantly sold on “Shaking All Over” and it’s Stephen Stills in a cabin with John Denver back in the 70’s, sort of feel.
“Don’t Leave Me Hanging” is a slow, sad cut about love lost and the one who thinks it can be found as easily. This is a classic example of the way Tony Dekker pairs music and lyrics that are timed with a minimal difference, and for the most part it works pretty well for him.
The odd love song, “One More Charge At The Red Cape”, is more alternative rock, than folk, but remains pretty organic with the layering of all of the strings.
“I Was A Wayward Pastel Bay” is a slower song but with a decent beat and some well-placed key work. I dig the lyrics and how well and vague they are presented.
I really enjoy “A Bird Flew Inside The House”, and the sense of Ekoostik Hookah and New Monsoon in a studio together back in the early 2000’s. My favorite lyric on the album is “everything’s in danger and heaven needs help”.
“A Jukebox In The Desert” seems like more of an indie rock tune, about a toxic relationship that was based on love but has become something selfish and dangerous.
The vocal delivery on “I Must Have Someone Else’s Blues” reminds me of R.E.M.’s, Michael Stipe, if he was singing something that had been written by Lou Reed.
“The Great Bear” is a celebration of all the mysteries of the world that still are when little is. I am reminded of the acoustic live album by Band Of Horses and the power of minimal music and a strong voice singing equally strong lyrics.
“With Every Departure” is another song about being lost in a relationship with someone who is sinking and won’t be helped.
The album closes with “Expecting You”, which gives the impression of a first time father who is grasping a bit of the gravity that is about to pull his world in many directions, for many years to come. The tune has a slight country-western, under the Texas stars, flavor.
“Forest Of Arms” is a pretty tight piece of music from the Great Lake Swimmers. It, of course has a few examples of Tony Dekker’s odd timing, but it is quite amazing that he has such success with it. Besides his singing and writing, Dekker is also impressive on acoustic guitars and ukulele. The musicianship of the rest of the band and the guests is equally superb. I would recommend “Forest Of Arms” to fans of Great Lake Swimmers and anyone that likes modern folk music with some classic sounds. That’s What I Know, So That’s What You Know!! Enjoy!!
HAPPY LISTENING!!!! 😉