Bird by Snow

Common Wealth

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The fourth Bird by Snow album is also Fletcher Tucker's first recorded away from his home setting; if the difference is sometimes subtle, there's still an overall rich depth to the sound brought out by the engineering work of Tim Green as well as in the increasingly complex arrangements by Tucker and his now regular percussionist, Spencer Owen. Overall, Common Wealth's strongest quality lies in its inability to be pinned down; Tucker's work is now something that resists easy summary -- one can hear everything from understated folk antecedents to fraught metal extremes to shadowed goth touches throughout its seven songs, but at no point is it simply one of those approaches, or any other one, for that matter. If his soft, low voice and general approach certainly suggests Nick Drake, this is a Drake that would be as familiar with the Boris album with the cover art referencing Bryter Layter as much as his own original work. (Also, somehow it seems hard to imagine Drake ever singing with the kind of understated swagger evident on "There Is a Marriage," not to mention the song's overall classic R&B shuffle, however refracted through echo and other equally understated but present elements.) The delicate flow of "Friends in the City," Owen's pinpoint performance providing a clear, brisk kick, works just as strongly as a song like "Without Reaching," where the rhythm comes courtesy of a guitar figure as well as a quiet but steady vocal part below Tucker's main lyric. Further touches like the looped piano pulse that suddenly starts and then underpins "One White Flag" and the distanced electric guitar on "As We Are Now" flesh out this very enjoyable release.

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