Book of Changes

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Book of Changes is singer, songwriter, and notably impassioned performer Guy Blakeslee's first full-length album back under his solo moniker, Entrance. It follows a decade of leading his trio, the Entrance Band. The EP Promises, released just five months prior, teased a sound with a singer/songwriter-type character much more so than the fierce psych-rock of his group. Written and recorded at home and in nearly a dozen studios during a year of touring and traveling, the album collected performances by several guests along the way, including bandmate Paz Lenchantin of Pixies and percussionist Frank Lenz. The resulting set not only differs from his band, but is more fleshed out and refined than the ramshackle acid folk/blues of his Entrance albums from the 2000s. Carrying full-band arrangements, Book of Changes features mallet percussion, strings, and keyboards, among other sounds that add texture in sometimes offbeat ways to acoustic guitar, bass, and drums. After the brief, whistled "Winterlude," for instance, "Winter Lady" has ethereal backing vocals including lines delivered by the Winter Lady herself, plus violin, warbling electronics, and an icy wind over the core band. The brighter "Always the Right Time" has a classic '60s pop vibe, kicking things off on a note of sweetness, though Blakeslee's loose, idiosyncratic delivery still commands attention with a certain asymmetry. In harmony with the singer, the production here has an organic quality that eschews excessive polish and often sounds live despite some headphone-friendly mixing effects. Perhaps most similar to his prior solo work, "The Avenue," with its unorthodox, lilting country, highlights the singer's quivering vibrato on a tale of lost love ("I'll see you when your trouble gets like mine"). Arguably his most coherent album to date, while off-kilter touches add a layer of artfulness, the songs themselves are engaging, even riveting by nature, and made more so by Blakeslee's performances. In comments about the making of Book of Changes, he said he was looking to get back to the essence of song as a thing one can sit down and play with just a guitar or piano. In combination with relatable lyrics that, as the album's title implies, deal with life's wins and losses and the relentless of time, he succeeds at that here, offering melody-centric tunes that captivate.

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