In the beginning, Norfolk & Western was a project name given to the solo recordings of Oregon-based singer/songwriter Adam Selzer. Over the course of several albums, however, the project has developed into a proper band, and with A Gilded Age, it's not even entirely Selzer's show anymore. Former Decemberists drummer Rachel Blumberg is Selzer's foil now, writing and singing her own sweet-natured indie-folk tunes. Blumberg's songs, as well as those he co-wrote with Selzer and bassist Dave Depper, boost the energy level of the album considerably; though a few songs, particularly the closing "A Voice Through the Wall," are in keeping with Selzer's familiar, haunted and skeletal acoustic tunes; most of A Gilded Age sounds remarkably like the peppy indie pop of Blumberg's former band. Utility Decemberist Chris Funk's varied contributions to these songs are probably a big part of that, as is the increased prominence of longtime keyboardist and accordion player Tony Moreno. Regardless, Selzer's reliably dark-edged lyrical sense and minor-key folkiness maintain a link to previous Norfolk & Western albums that keeps A Gilded Age from sounding like a calculated shift in musical focus.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason