A Derby Spiritual

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Drunk's first album, a derby spiritual, is a beautiful collection of sparse, mournful songs that conjure up a sense of backwoods despair and rural hopefulness. Using a variety of instruments, including guitars, mandolins, violins, accordions, banjos, organs, and cellos, Drunk produces a sound not unlike Palace, especially in the sense of the traditional Appalachian approach of that band. P.J. Alverson, sounding like an infinitely sad Tom Petty, sings in a high-lonesome voice of resignation and wonder, while the reeling instrumentation functions as a perfect complement to his vocal style. On songs such as "Hand on Deck" and "Coming Home," with its dark, loping accordion line, the morose qualities of Drunk come to the forefront, while on the upbeat "Germany Skies" and "Gideon's Trumpet," the band demonstrates its ability to craft songs that approximate pop. On many of the songs, violins and organs provide a solid foundation for the other instruments, and as a result many of the tracks come across as impressively textured and complex. The beauty of a derby spiritual, however, lies in its lean, simple approach; there is never a feeling of overproduction or overcrowding, and this allows the sentiments of the songs, often incredibly touching (and often hilarious, as in the case of the final, untitled track), to shine through all the brighter. This is a subtle, many-layered album, one for those who appreciate honesty and simple beauty in their music.

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