Sand & Lines is grainy and authentic but surprisingly balanced; I guess the band members are phenomenal listeners, or got real lucky with their mic placement, or both. These circumstances (choices, really) make this release more of an artifact than an album and force the listener to skip the superficiality of a first impression and arrive directly at the heart of the songwriting. This record is not naked, but nude.
Listen to “Tugboat”
Venice Is Sinking find their groove in mournful, sentimental alt-country-folk; it’s gritty like Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter without that whole heroin chic thing, reserved like Iron and Wine without the murmuring, and folksy like Vetiver but much more somber. Their arrangements remind me of Low’s best work, where individual players will trade leads with confident and casual buoyancy. I found my thoughts behaving similarly as I listened, fading in and out of attention — a contentedly tranquilizing experience.
No surprise, then, that in my hunt for favorite tracks to highlight in this review, I arrived at the only song that pops out from the rest of the album by virtue of an attention-getting hook. “Bardstown Round” is a sloshing waltz of a drinking song and catchy in the best way. You might want to find the tabs for this one and learn it quick, before everybody else does.
Sand & Lines was my introduction to Venice Is Sinking but I already feel like a long-time fan who dug a magical bootleg out of a secondhand bin. Rarely does a record capture the precious energy of a first take like this one.
* Georgia Theatre was soon thereafter destroyed in a fire, and some proceeds from this record will be donated to its reconstruction.