Reviews

Euphemystic

Author: Reed Jackson
10/28/2001 | Unpop.com | www.unpop.com | Album Review
Rank: 3 out of 4

Son/Ambulance songwriter Joe Knapp may not know it, but he's an alchemist. Like those mystic scientists of yore, Knapp and his band take base matter and attempt to transform it into something valuable. Instead of the lead into gold trick, Son/Ambulance's strive to instill meaning and authenticity into the long bankrupt 70's singer/songwriter tradition (Elton John, Billy Joel, need more be really said here?)

With the appropriately titled debut Euphemystic, they are off to a hopeful start in their quest. The band utilizes many of the elements employed by their corrupt forbearers - melancholy piano, lilting guitar and careworn vocals -- but end up with something radically different. Son's careful songs communicate a precise honesty and an organic assurance at all times. "I was born, then I died/ happened right before your eyes" whispers Knapp on the shivering opening track, invoking an instantaneous creation and a sense of cyclical wholeness that will inform throughout. Knapp's warm vocals and sharply felt lyrics steer the songs at all times, preventing them from straying into the realms of cheese or commercialized pap which always threatens this type of music.

Fragile and insular like a desperately told secret, Euphemystic occasionally veers into the precious, but goose-bumped lines such as the above and "I remember how we used to talk/like swallows in an unborn child's throat" more than justify those missteps. Without the armor of self-obsession, irony or pervasive misery worn by like-minded cohorts Conor Obherst, Ben Folds, and Elliott Smith, Knapp exposes himself to risk, and emerges with material all the more powerful because of the chances taken. Here's hoping none of Son/Ambulance's feats were rigged.


Euphemystic

Euphemystic

LP / CD / MP3




Releases

All »

Someone Else's Deja Vu

Someone Else's Deja Vu

LP / CD / MP3


Key

Key

CD / MP3


Euphemystic

Euphemystic

LP / CD / MP3