Sunday, January 17, 2010

2009: The Round Up

#6. Jay Farrar & Benjamin Gibbard - One Fast Move Or I'm Gone
(Atlantic, 2009)


Two artists you wouldn't necessarily think of together. Farrar coming from the americana world of Uncle Tupelo and later Son Volt. Benjamin Gibbard from the indierock of Death Cab For Cutie. Still the two found common ground in their love and/or fascination for the poet Jack Kerouac. What was supposed to be a couple of songs for a documentary suddenly became a full album. The main songwriter behind the project is Farrar although it is Gibbard who takes the lead as the singer for the most songs. Gibbard even took it as far as living in the cabin in Big Sur where Kerouac wrote the book by the same name. The first fruits of the labour came on Death Cab For Cutie's latest album Narrow Stairs where the opening cut "Bixby Canyon Bridge" is about Gibbard's time at the cabin.

For me, a big fan of Death Cab For Cutie and all things country-ish, this album is a dream Just think of that great soothing voice of Gibbard in a veil of pedal steel and acoustic guitars. The most of this album is stunningly beautiful. Although I like Jay Farrar and his songwriting for both Uncle Tupelo and Son Volt the real gem for me here is to hear his songs sung by somebody else. In my opinion that takes his songs up to another level. It's not that I don't like his voice it's just something that I can't quite explain. So my favourites on this album is mostly the songs sung by Gibbard with the exception of for example "Sea Engines" where Gibbard's high harmonies and the pedal steel almost melt into each other.

Lyrically the album is based on texts by Kerouac from the novel Big Sur. They have in some places been just the inspiration, other places they are just reinterperated and other places again you get direct quotes.

This probably was a once in a lifetime collaboration and maybe the album will be better for it. Because this really works on every level, both as an album and as a soundtrack for the film. Jay Farrar and Benjamin Gibbard is a great duo. Maybe we will see more collaborations in the future, but if we don't I will continue to be a very happy guy with this album.



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