Now It’s Overhead
Fall Back Open
olly, this is good. With so much mediocre shite out there, when something this good comes along, we need to sit up and beg for more. Shout out from the rooftops about it. So, consider this shouting.
It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly is working so well, bearing in mind it isn’t revolutionary in sound and the lyrics don’t always make sense. But somehow, its core shines like pearl in a shell. It is a human soul turning inside out for the entire world to see.
Conceived in Athens, Georgia, Now It’s Overhead is largely the lovechild of introverted, sensitive studio-maven Andy LeMaster. He cunningly ropes in Saddle Creek label mates Orenda Fink and Maria Taylor (Azure Ray) and uber-Creeker Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes), as well as Athens-man-about-town Michael Stipe to help him build his sonic castles. A steadfast dedication to mood, created through the use of strings, trilling drums and warm guitars, “Fall Back Open” is focused solely on extracting the last drops of lucre from buried emotional treasure.
Coaxing us into a false start of indie-rocking-out with opening track “Wait In Line” (although the strings and female cooing vocals provide foreshadowing) as well as the wailing snarls and tinny percussion of “Surrender”. But our path to poignant unrest is laid clear with the cosy guitar burr and burst-open soaring melody of “Turn & Go” making it feel like a lover stroking your cheek, while the title track’s reverb presses itself hard against the elevated purr of LeMaster’s vocal creating that feeling of fiery sharpness, in the vein of knocking back some wee early morning hours triple-distilled whiskey a little too fast.
Bare-boned “The Decision Made Itself” drops its robe and let’s you see the naked self because it has nothing left to lose. Closer “A Little Consolation”, with its driveway imagery calling us to the open road of possibilities, ends the album on a note of staccato-string, snaring drum optimism.
This is a rare example of music transcending lyrics in conveying the work’s meaning. Since the lyrics are just quick sketches of LeMaster’s id, an outsider won’t make easy sense of them. He instead uses the inflections of words, as well as the cadence, to make them sound like a flowing, otherworldly instrument.
LeMaster gets on the aural cross so we don’t have too. The least we can do is bask in the glory of his sacrifice. And let it cleanse us back to beatific.
Reviewed by: Lisa Oliver
Reviewed on: 2004-04-08