Water Liars paint in some awfully vivid strokes. Sometimes the canvases they expel their stories upon are grungy, other times mellow or more soulful, but almost always composed in brave, untethered melancholy. Justin Kinkel-Schuster, along with bandmates Andrew Bryant and GR Robinhangesson, seem to rip their hearts open nightly, signing songs of a lonely life on the road, fleeting moments of joy (that last just long enough to torture the soul), and doomed relationships. Heavy shit, to be honest with you.
Still, such confessions have played well around here, in part because of the heavy dose of rural escapism the Oxford Mississippi trio serves alongside such heartache. Water Liars clearly channel their locale; a place us city dwelling souls imagine the ghosts of Leadbelly, Alan Lomax, and anyone who passed through Muscle Shoals haunting those who dare pick up a guitar. Last year's Wyoming certainly let our imaginations run wild. In the event such Southern daydreaming started to wane, the band recently heaped another even livelier serving on top of their fantastic catalog of songs; a third, self-titled album released earlier this month on Fat Possum Records.
On Wednesday night, no real imagination was needed, as the road these Southerners have been traveling the last two weeks lead straight to our chaotic, sensory overloaded city for a gig at The Mercury Lounge. Setting up shop in front of a healthy sized audience on a frigid, February evening, the band marched through a 50 minute set of songs from their last two albums, to the satisfaction of the good folks who "gave their time" to the band on a a busy school night. I half-jokingly bring this up because in between tunes, Kinkel-Schuster, as polite a performer as I've ever seen, thanked the crowd for clearing their schedules for the band. No problem my man. When you're flashing the kind of rusted, sonic steel these guys are, well, we only wish they could inhabit real estate on our calendars a little more often.
Check out a few shots from the show below and a stripped down session we captured with Justin and Andrew when they came through NYC last Spring.