The band Rex made three albums in the mid-’90s—one decent and two excellent—that seemed to portend, at least at the time, much greater things. But the quartet—part of the short-lived “slowcore” movement that included bands like Low, Bedhead, and Seam—probably weren’t ever meant for bigger things: Its music was gorgeous, but never terribly inviting. After Rex split, rumors arose occasionally that singer-guitarist Curtis Harvey was working on solo material, but nothing ever materialized, and the band was consigned to history. Until now, anyway. More than 10 years after Rex’s final disc, Harvey has found a home at Fat Cat, the label responsible for releasing records by Animal Collective, Frightened Rabbit, and Sigur Ros.
A quick look at the cover of Harvey’s solo debut Box Of Stones gives some indication of its contents: It’s dusty, simple, and a sort of deliberate throwback. Largely percussion-free, it’s the sound of a guy getting comfortable with naked expression: Harvey’s raspy voice—reminiscent of Mark Lanegan’s, though not nearly that low—sits high above his intricately plucked acoustic guitar and tasteful banjo. At times it feels a little too straightforward—as on “Oldertoo”—but mostly, Harvey hits just the right emotional notes. He’s older and clearly a little wiser, and more capable than ever of finding beauty in quiet, folky little corners.