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Southerly: Storyteller And The Gossip Columnist

C

Southerly

Album: Storyteller And The Gossip Columnist
Label: Greyday

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The problem with grafting big arrangements onto basic songs is ensuring that the transplant actually takes. Otherwise, you wind up with a record like Southerly's sophomore full-length, Storyteller And The Gossip Columnist. Bandleader Krist Krueger spreads his dusky indie-folk tunes thin enough in the disc's quiet moments; the added weight of sawing strings and melodramatic piano only weakens it to the point of disintegration. "Soldiers" is an otherwise lucid track rendered opaque by sodden, "Bittersweet Symphony"-esque cello, while stabs at classic-pop sophistication like "Cold Caller" can't even puncture the skin. And even if credit should be given for sheer ambition, Storyteller's labored verse and desperate dynamics feel more thudding than thunderous. At his best, Krueger hits notes of tender gravity with poignancy and ease. Here, though, he's mostly just chewing the scenery.