J. Kirk Pleasant's second album as Calvin, Don't Jump! expands on the promise of his debut; it's both less indulgent and more experimental than Crystal Clear Mississippi. With a wider circle of collaborators to flesh out his one-man-band sound, the album has a musical richness the debut sometimes lacked. This is especially noticeable on the instrumental half of the album (the 16 songs alternate between instrumentals and vocal tracks), which sound like a more structured and focused version of the instrumental explorations of Pleasant's former employers the Olivia Tremor Control. The vocal tracks are marginally less interesting, since with Pleasant's agreeable but anonymous voice and taste for lyrics like "Your wisteria mind" it sounds kind of like Elephant 6-by-numbers. A few of the vocal songs, particularly the title track, are charming pieces of southern-fried psych pop, but songs like the delicate, hammered dulcimer-based "Triumphant Snow" and the mysterious found sound and drones "Magic Hour" make A Way With Birds such an appealing listen.
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