This debut album by Spokane (aka Rick Alverson, songwriter and founding member of lo-fi, high lonesome outfit Drunk) manages to simultaneously conjure desperate loneliness and a womblike warmth. In its net effect, Leisure and Other Songs avoids being merely an exercise in downer navel-gazing by looking up from the belly button lint to notice -- in evocative little details of lyric and minor key explorations -- the minutiae of the everyday. Alverson's voice is inviting and mournful, and he stretches his phrases over his haunting arrangements of guitar, piano, vibes, and myriad other muted sounds like muslin (or, in some instances, like a burlap wrap around precious foliage in winter). Alverson is aided and abetted on piano by labelmate Patrick Phelan, who also co-produced the album. Phelan's spare playing does as much to create a mood of quiet, inevitable decay as Alverson's equally economical guitar playing and singing. Alverson's lyrics, sketches of daily lives lived and reflected upon, have a Zenlike quality of reflection without longing, loss without sadness, and comfort in emptiness. His arrangements of the vapor trails of violin, piano, guitar, and drums border on lush, but stay just clear of becoming overtly emotional (or at least emotionally obvious). Alverson's Spokane is not a vast departure from his work with Drunk; rather, it's a complementary tributary to his main group's work. Deceptively simple, Alverson and company have in Leisure's eight compositions created a compelling, hypnotizing suite.
AllMusic Review by Chris Handyside