Saturday, 18 April 2009

Day 18

This is so not cheating. Read that and hear this:
King Laconic is a Norwich-based singer-songwriter. His guitar playing is reminiscent of an Elliott Smith or a Nick Drake in its intricacy and expressiveness but in no way bound by these references, transcending any and all of his influences through sheer passion and an often startling originality, from delicate fingerpicking to propulsive chord progressions and back again, sometimes in the space of a single song; hear, for example, the frantic picking of ‘Patient Communication’ switch seamlessly to an at once euphoric and despairing thrash, or how ‘Muddy Water’ veers between icy folk and crunching, dirtily melodic rock.

Vocally he is much the same; his voice stretches from a sparingly and perfectly deployed falsetto to what can at times only be termed an impassioned yelp, wild yet utterly controlled, always unaffected and always tailored to best fit his lyrics.

David Berman of the Silver Jews manages to compress novels of meaning into single sentences; Ezra Pound espoused the need for poetry to be “hard and dry”; and the lyrics on display here stem from this same school. They are compressed with meaning, shunning superfluity so as to hone in on not only their precise intention but an open eyed and unspoken ambiguity, much like a Raymond Carver story, tackling ‘big themes’ in a fresh and subtle way.

King Laconic is, like all good musicians, best seen live. His solo acoustic sets are revelations, all of the above and then some. When an artist can not just play but so obviously relish and revel in his performance, you know you’re in for a good gig, full of intensity and intimacy. In short, he is the perfect antidote to the sentimental dribble dripping from the fey-vocals-and-pretty-fingerpicking that the music scene seems to be drowning in at times, an artist with enough bite to pierce even the thickest skin and enough heart to stitch it back up afterwards.

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