I see light from passing cars push shadows across my still, quiet wall. I close my eyes tight, and the picture of a cold, creaky cabin in the woods - one gathering eras of dirt and dust on its' every surface - vaguely comes to mind. The wind whips hints of autumn through the open window, slowing summer madness down just enough to notice the first decay in the transformation of the season.
These are the places singer songwriter A.A. Bondy helps to push my imagination with his latest album, When the Devil's Loose (Fat Possum). What's more, the former lead singer of Verbena accomplishes such contemplation with a folky, instrumental efficiency. Slow acoustic turns, deep rooted electric twang, a steady churn on a vintage set of drums, informal plunks on an old, beat up piano, and bass lines that dare not call attention to themselves; Bondy's is an agreeable, yet understated sound. "Mightiest of Guns", for example, introduces the album with a graceful pirouette upon an acoustic picking pattern, recalling some of Iron and Wine's gentler moments along the way. "A Slow Parade" is a relaxed plod of a song; appropriate for its' title to say the very least. And "I Can See the Pines Are Dancing" might be the best of the bunch, swinging and swaying on a CCR-esque bass line, a robust, rusty ride cymbal, and a perfectly chirpy electric guitar.
For his part as front man, Bondy coos with a subtle, back of the throat delivery. His voice is warn and scratchy; a melodic, everyman singer who gives his songs the authentic stamp of approval they demand. And though his voice won't be characterized as strong anytime soon, Bondy's surprisingly effective. In "False River", for example, the singer strikes a temperamental tone, layering his vocals to match the moody, mellow makeup of the song. In "On the Moon", Bondy pens the perfect, show closer, delivering a peaceful lullaby that's sure to push heavy on the eyelids as it plays through.
If there's any one fault, I suppose it's that The Devil's Loose hits exactly how it hits. It's deliberate, and cohesive; an album that demands an immediate opinion or reaction from listen one. Whether your relationship to the tunes will change over time? That I just can't say. But The Devil's Loose is certainly ready, steady, and true...an immediate imagination sparker that leaves plenty of room for visions, dreams, and every day mystery. - David Pitz