Guilford

Wrought

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Guilford is actually just Greg Olson, plucking great pools of somber mood from a perfectly-mic'd acoustic on most songs, and singing in a confident voice that melts into the little circular, hypnotic patterns his fingers contrive. "No matter how I try/I can't purge you from my mind/I can't replace the memories/That you left behind/And as I end each day/Reading from the page/I recall you and the sweet things you would say" ("Thought Of") -- this is the kind of simple lyrical lament that sinks or swims entirely on the singer's believability (does he make you feel those things down deep inside, recalling scenes from your own life, or is it the same old laxative pop cliché?) and how much the music hijacks your emotional state back to that bittersweet, nostalgic place. Olson succeeds fabulously on both counts, helped by longtime Boston-area producer Roger Lavallee -- who adds haunting slide guitar on "...Is..." and in general makes us feel like we're sitting at his charge's feet, lights dimmed. In turn, Olson coaxes us into what life has "wrought" with each little hard drag and jerk of the strings. Even when he picks up an electric and opts for minimal bass and drums, as on "The Places of Assembly," he just converts to a slow-core master to rival Low. Great old '30s sleeve photos, too. When Robyn Hitchcock sang, "No, I don't remember Guilford," he meant the English town, not this. This is entirely memorable.

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