Great Lakes

Ways of Escape

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Like many Athens, GA bands, indie pop outfit Great Lakes has enjoyed a rotating cast of contributors throughout its decade of work. On the group's fourth long-player, lone founding member Ben Crum holds the reins, and his gentle delivery, lyricism, and obvious love of late-'60s and early-'70s country and folk-rock help make Ways of Escape the perfect late-summer road trip companion. All it takes is one run-through of the verse melody of the weepy, pedal steel-laden opener, “Rev War,” to set the table. From there, it depends on the listener's appetite for the Band, Gram Parsons, and Ian Matthews. Featuring backing by a small army of friends with severe indie rock credentials (Ted Leo & the Pharmacists, Beirut, Elf Power, the Swirlies, Ladybug Transistor, Mice Parade, and Japancakes), Crum’s sunset vignettes can be both intimate (“Summer Fruit,” a cover of John Prine's “Sour Grapes”) and sprawling (“Sorrow and Woe,” “Ghost Brother”), but rarely do they overstay their welcome. Ways of Escape may not beat you over the head with singles, but the era in which Crum is reveling didn’t either. The warm, loose, reverb-heavy production that hangs over the album keeps things appropriately mellow, even when the band is letting loose, a tactic that can bury some projects but works extraordinarily well here.

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