Occasional Keepers The Beauty of the Empty Vessel

While it might be easy to throw around the term "supergroup” when discussing the Occasional Keepers, it really is best not to. Despite the fact that they unite former member of Sarah Records bands the Field Mice and the Wake, this is a project more in the vein of This Mortal Coil than CSNY. Instead of simply writing songs together, Carolyn Allen and Casear (from the Wake) and Bobby Wratten (from the Field Mice and Trembling Blue Stars) have mixed together quiet acoustic guitars, keyboards and assorted field recordings with male and female vocals in a a mix of gentle ballads and swirling instrumentals. The Beauty of the Empty Vessel isn’t a surprising album at all, but that comes as a bit of relief because it does live up to the expectations that come from such an important meeting of musical minds. These ten compositions have more in common with the quiet introspection that has taken over the last couple of releases by the Trembling Blue Stars. And that is part of the problem because Wratten’s music has gotten less and less interesting since those early days simply because he has lacked the capacity to do anything but go through the motions. Thankfully these new collaborators have helped pull him out his slump to a certain degree, yet the best tracks apparently come from Casear and Allen although there is definitely a synergy that makes The Beauty of the Empty Vessel the most interesting record that any of them has been involved with in years. (LTM)