Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Jeremy Messersmith - The Silver City

Jeremy Messersmith
The Silver City (Princess Records, 2008)
Grade: A-

Download: Jeremy Messersmith - "Miracles"
Download: Jeremy Messersmith - "Virginia"

Like a white collar version ofWhen Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold, Jeremy Messersmith's sophomore album is a thematic look into the lives of working people who strive to make the best of soul-deadeningly circumstances. Messersmith also offers an unflinching depiction of the tragedy that occurs when those people inevitably settle for less. But instead of detailing the existence of waitresses who deal with fucks and lowlifes, harried single mothers, or petty criminals trying to shield their children from the less attractive aspects of their lifestyles, Messersmith writes odes to people who've given up on their dreams by retreating into the world of cul-de-sacs, BBQs, and daily commutes to and from the city.

It's the sounds of those travels that begins the album proper, and helps set the conceptual tone for the record. From there, Messersmith crafts one song after another of sumptuously arranged pop music with influences ranging from the classic to the modern-day. Though The Silver City may at times play like an amalgam of those influences (post Rubber Soul-Beatles, The Postal Service, The Shins), but Messersmith has a wickedly clever songwriting device that he applies to devastating effect. Using his naturally soothing tenor, Messersmith has a preternatural tendency to lull listeners into a false sense of security, then beautifully shattering it with an arrangement curveball. On tracks like the baroque folk of "Dead End Job" and multi-harmonied "Welcome To Suburbia" feature great, patient songcraft on its, but the addition of an orchestral instrument, like the French Horn of "Job", allows the listener to discover the hidden symphonies in the music. Elsewhere, The Silver City ably dabbles in electro-minded indie-pop ("Miracles", "Virginia"), direct Beatles quotations ("Lightrail"), and sad, multi-layered folk-rock ("Franklin Avenue"). While Messersmith's sound has its obvious reference points, by crafting empathetic, third-person narratives with richly arranged music, The Silver City shines brightest as a document of lives that deserve more than they've received.

Buy the album here.

Jeremy Messersmith MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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