David Usher

Little Songs

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Taken on its own merits, Little Songs is a crisp, clear, and utterly listenable collection of lo-fi pop tunes. Although, all is not as simple as it first seems. Little Songs also happens to be the solo debut from Moist frontman David Usher. Moist, at the time of this album's release, had the reputation of being an intensely serious hard rock outfit. It was somewhat of a challenging idea -- to believe the same singer who literally screamed his way through Moist hits like "Push" and "Silver" really wanted to record an album rife with Moog, mellotron, and cello in his kitchen, of all places. With misconceptions set aside, it's immediately clear on first listen that Little Songs is immaculately crafted. The album is based primarily around a very minimal, stripped-down acoustic guitar sound. What distinguishes this album from so many others like it are the delicate nuances, unusual musical touches, and consistently pretty flourishes of sound. "Trickster" finds a handful of disjointed piano notes scattered across the acoustics, with a rhythm so soft it's hard to pick out. "Jesus Was My Girl" brings a more beat-heavy approach, with tasteful use of a drum machine covered aptly with smooth trumpet and Hammond organ sounds. Even though the music is softer, the impact of the songs is no less intense than the heaviest Moist material. Lyrics are a strong point -- sharp and obviously well-crafted. Usher proves to be a mesmerizing, yet abstract, storyteller on this disc. All songs were written by Usher, who also co-produced and mixed the record. In addition, his voice is engaging, actually quite warm and even pretty in places. He's evolved into a powerful, utterly listenable singer, relying on technique as opposed to volume, as he did in the earliest days of Moist. With the obvious earnestness Usher shows in the material, there is no chance of pretense on this disc, no grand concepts to be uncovered, and no self-indulgent tangents to be dragged through. Intricate pop music is the essence of Little Songs, which makes it an enjoyable and worthwhile listen.

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