British romantic-depressives Dakota Suite (basically singer/songwriter Chris Hooson and whoever else is in the room) recorded their third proper album -- not counting two all-instrumental side projects -- in San Francisco with Bruce Kaphan, former pedal steel player for American romantic-depressives American Music Club. Kaphan's familiar tones appear throughout the album, and AMC drummer Tim Mooney also guests on the less than half of the album that actually has percussion. The American Music Club parallels are obvious (though Hooson is a less memorable lyricist than Mark Eitzel), particularly in the way the songs suggest country and folk music without sounding particularly country-ish or folky. Echoes of the ultra-atmospheric production and slowly unfolding arrangements of Bedhead or Low and the close-miked intimacy of Joe Pernice's solo albums also crop up in these 18 spare but hauntingly beautiful tracks. Those who insist on a certain set number of hooks per song will likely find this delicate set of tunes tough sledding, but This River Only Brings Poison is an initially challenging but ultimately luxuriant listen. This expanded U.S. edition adds four bonus tracks, two of them utterly lovely tunes from the aforementioned instrumental albums.
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason