P.G. Six

The Well of Memory

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The second PG Six album, following three years after Parlor Tricks and Porch Favorites, saw Pat Gubler continuing to explore his folk roots-via- avant-garde arrangements muse in entrancing ways, able to stake out a further space for his individual art post-Tower Recordings as well as from others working in the general vein of early 21st century sounds of that kind. Something like the opening "Well of Memory, Pt. I," with its collage of autoharp, drones, and plenty of reverb, not to mention an open-ended melody that never quite resolves, is miles away from the twee air of many acts, while everything from the crumbling electric guitar feedback of "Considering the Lateness of the Hour" to the wryly titled "Three Stages of a Band," which does feature a full rock band arrangement of sorts, further undermines expectations. A highlight comes with "Old Man on the Mountain," which despite its familiar title is an original lyric from PG Six set to the traditional "Cherry Tree Carol," a fusion that acknowledges the roots of folk in free reworkings of earlier material; Gubler's singing here is also among his finest, calm, captivating, and warm. The split song "Come In/The Winter It Is Past" showcases the balance between structure and exploration well, each song's more straightforward arrangement bridged by a swirling mix of whistles and other instruments (including what is described as the "inaugural performance" of the Norfolk Street All-Star Harmonica Choir, as great a name as any in music). Helen Rush's guest vocals at various points add further variety to an elegant album -- her turn on "Crooked Way" catches the ear in particular, in an understated counterpoint to Gubler -- and the whole is an underrated listen well worth the seeking out.

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