At the end of the 1960s, young British singer/songwriter Nick Garrie delivered a lush and deeply imaginative Baroque pop LP that, due to a confluence of circumstances and lack of promotion, effectively arrived stillborn. Thanks to both its quality and rarity, The Nightmare of J.B. Stanislas spent the next few decades slowly acquiring cult status, largely unbeknownst to its creator, who had moved on to enjoy a modestly successful career in a handful of European markets. By the time Stanislas received its first digital reissue and widespread distribution in 2005, Garrie's fan base included a new generation of appreciators who wielded their own influence in certain musical circles. Among them were bands like Wilco, Teenage Fanclub, and New York indie pop outfit the Ladybug Transistor, the latter of whom had a hand in shaping 2017's The Moon & the Village, the second release since Garrie's late-career renaissance. Recorded and co-produced by Ladybug Transistor members Gary Olson and Kyle Forester at Marlborough Farms -- the longtime New York hub of numerous Elephant 6 Collective projects -- The Moon & the Village offers a pleasantly stripped-down version of the singer's warm and melodic style. Though not quite as lush as his cult classic debut or as chorally driven as 2009's 49 Arlington Gardens, there is a sweetness to these 11 songs that brims with personal narrative and slice-of-life storytelling. His voice, slightly deepened with age, is still resonant and effortlessly companionable as he frames a life of searching on the poignant "Lois' Diary" and "Music from a Broken Violin." The Baroque melancholia of the lovely "Early Morning in the Garden" is countered nicely by the playful barroom reminiscence of "Bacardi Samuel," both feeling particularly English in their own fashion. As a songwriter Garrie is the consummate craftsman, playing the everyman bard while Olson and Forester's production sets the stage without ever being cumbersome on this strong release.
Review by Timothy Monger