The Sea Won't Take Long

T. Griffin Coraline

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The Sea Won't Take Long Review

by Michael Berick

T. Griffin Coraline is a collaboration involving singer/songwriter T. Griffin, violinist Catherine McRae, and a variety of associates, including trumpeter Dennis Cronin (Vic Chesnutt, Lambchop) and percussionist Bruce Cawdron (Godspeed You Black Emperor!). Together, they make an eerily beautiful mix of acoustic instruments and machinery that they describe, accurately enough, as "porch-techno." The Sea Won't Take Long resembles a short-story collection complete with reoccurring imagery and characters. Griffin's lyrics are full of references to transportation (airplanes, cars, submarines), ghosts, dreams, death, and love. Doomed submarine sailors, for instance, appear in four separate songs. This nautical fixation perhaps arises from the fact that this disc was recorded in a Brooklyn canal-adjacent basement apartment that once housed Latvian sailors. This lyrical motif adds to the music's beguiling quality and helps to tie the entire album together. The woman who is haunted by images of trapped sailors in the opening song ("Broken Bird") possibly could be the same woman drowning herself in the closing, title track. Griffin's disquieting songs perfectly suit the usual arrangements based around McRae's melancholic violin, a junkyard collection of percussion and other mysterious sounds. Amid the dark, bleak images of sunken submarines and suicides, there also are some lovely (if rather offbeat) moments of light and love. Places where lovers key their names into a car hood. Where a man, in the tune "Alabama," describes a woman's eyes as something that "astronomers stay awake dreaming about" and, in "Miss Your Plane," pleads for a woman not to take a flight, even if it means there'll be "a man with your name on a cardboard sign (haunting) baggage claim." Griffin has a knack for coming up with taking mundane images and twisting them into something memorable. At times, his twisted New York City tales, like "Nellie Bly," suggest a postmodern Paul Simon, while on other tunes, such as "Aeroplane," he resembles Vic Chesnutt's electronics-loving Yankee cousin. Either way, Griffin, McRae, and Company have created an alluring gem of an album that's worth seeking out.

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