Adam Selzer

All the Walls Are Bare

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All the Walls Are Bare is exactly right. The title is a precise evocation of the unadorned beauty of this first solo effort from the primary catalyst behind roots collective Norfolk & Western. And rarely has "roots" been a more appropriate designation for someone's music. Adam Selzer's songs have always felt plucked right out of history: remote, dusty, and drawing breath from the far end of time but still so fully lived that you can hear their aching bones throb. At times ("Gentrified," "Slowness") on this self-sketched debut Selzer again hints at the brittle, creased-photograph quality of Norfolk & Western's music, with its acoustic strumming, harmonica as barren as a Great Plains wind, and its lonely banjos and mandolins. In other moments, however, his muse detours down different, rarely traveled paths and back lanes and finds its own out-of-the-way directions back home (where, incidentally, the album literally was recorded--in an empty bedroom over the previous summer). "This Boy" is practically (or at least approximately) upbeat it's so nutty in love. "Far from My Lair" has some of the pocket-baroque, Mellotron-fueled austerity of the Rolling Stones' "Ruby Tuesday" and a hauntingly regal arrangement that recalls Nico's Chelsea Girl. In fact, the narcotized loveliness of the early Velvet Underground wafts throughout All the Walls Are Bare, coloring the air. Clocking in at under thirty minutes, the LP is an exceedingly brisk snapshot that will likely sound as ancient and weathered--and alive, and immediate, and timeless--a score or two down the road as it did in 2003, its hermetic preservation just starting to wear yellow at the corners as it hangs on the wall.

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