Chris Bathgate

Dizzy Seas

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AllMusic Review by

Chris Bathgate has said that his fourth full-length album, 2017's Dizzy Seas, was inspired in part by hiking through the woods in Northern Michigan. That certainly meshes with the sound of the music, but perhaps not in the way some might expect. Dizzy Seas doesn't recall a spirited jaunt on a sunny day, but rather a walk on a narrow path as the last light of the evening is starting to fade, immersing the surroundings with rich shades of blue and purple, and lending the forest a palpable mix of beauty and menace. While most folks use the word "folk" to describe Bathgate's music, Dizzy Seas moves beyond the commonly accepted boundaries of that phrase, embracing the guitar textures of indie rock and the broad dynamics of post-rock to give these ten songs a personality that's eclectic and intelligent, matching the impressionistic literacy of Bathgate's lyrics. Bathgate makes music that's often beautiful but never simple, and for all the broad strokes of the performances, the emotions behind them are full of nuance and subtle texture. Dizzy Seas is Bathgate's first full-length album after a four-year layoff from recordings, and the result is an LP that sounds fresh, but also shows an admirable sense of focus and restraint. There are plenty of ideas here, but Bathgate has the good sense not to let them drown one another out, and the final product is a splendid example of the notion of "less is more." Dizzy Seas reveals the deeper side of Chris Bathgate's musical personality, just as nightfall changes the mood of a stroll on a summer evening, but what's here is compelling, strangely beautiful stuff well worth your time and attention.

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